Tuesday, May 28, 2013

BEAUTIFUL… downtown Los Angeles

This truly is a beautiful play, peopled by many characters, but with only one lone dynamic woman filling the stage. It is a saga of a life filled with undeserved cruelty, and splashes of love, that send a child into a poisoned garden. All of this on a bare stage with one creamy silk embroidered wedding gown hung on a frame, a large screen with images and photos, and one heart breaking video. Yet in this autobiographical play each character stands out distinct and idiosyncratic. There is a child who believes all she is told, her grandma who teaches her life’s lesson, her mother whose mind crumbles, teachers, friends, and the father whose love she seeks in vain. All come to vivid life.

If Dante said the only way into heaven is through hell, then Jozanne Marie’s journey through remembrance of a cruel past is a revelation of why we love, and who we love, and when it is the time to forgive. But how can one ever forgive unwarranted, vicious, heedless cruelty? What is the strength given to the person whose spirit was desecrated? We cry out for vengeance, but Jozanne takes us on her journey into a place called hell and, in her gentle impressive way, brings us to heaven. Under her loving spirit we have to accept that yes, we do understand, and therefore, like her, we are able to forgive. 

Under Geoffrey Rivas’ sensitive and precise direction this world premiere of what started as a Spoken Word monologue becomes a fully realized drama. The setting is Jamaica and the Bronx, in the 1980’s, but the story it tells is universal. Imbedded in the text are soaring poems by Jozanne that lift the text to illuminate its ageless truth. Plaudits for scenic, lighting and projection design (Patsy McCormack and Rivas); sound (Edwin Peraza); costume (Hilary Parkin), and graphics (Xavi Moreno).

Produced and developed by The Latino Theater Company, with felicitations to artistic director Jose Luis Valenzuela. At the Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring St. Downtown, through June 16. For tickets call (866) 811-4111 (toll-free) or www.thelatc.org

 Photos of Jozanne Marie by Chaz Photographics.

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