Sunday, June 18, 2017

26 Miles—Profile Theatre—SW Portland

Road Trip

This powerful drama of relationships is written by Quiara Alegría Hudes and directed by Rebecca Martínez.  It is playing at the Artists Rep. space, 1515 SW Morrison, through June 25th.  For more information, go to their site at or call 503-242-0080.

Sometimes the best way to find your way home is…to get lost.  Already, when you are a teen, there may be a sense of fearlessness and indestructibility but there can also be the sense of isolation, frustration and desperation, especially if you are a child of a mixed marriage and your parents are separated.  And, faced with that realization, of not being fully aware of your roots, it is difficult to move forward.

Olivia (Alex Ramirez de Cruz) is just such a teen.  She is an editor of a news magazine, in which she chronicles her thoughts in a journal, and is the basis for this narrative.  Her white father, Aaron (Chris Harder), after being married for a few years to her Cuban mother, Beatriz (Julana Torres), and having a daughter by her, eventually falls in love with another woman, Deb, who he marries, and gets custody of Olivia because her mother is not yet a citizen.  But all is not at peace at her home, as her step-mother resents her, probably because she is of a Latino origin.  This fifteen-year-old then seeks out her, mostly absent, birth mother, who is now with another man, Manuel (Jimmy Garcia).

Sensing the desperation in her daughter’s voice, Beatriz chooses to rescue her and go on a road trip, not so much to see the sights of a cross-country journey, but to map out their own destinies.  Having lost about ten crucial years in their relationship, they discover some serious things have been lost in translation, as well, both figuratively and emotionally.  Along the path to an attempted reconciliation they find they not only have a language barrier, but differ in likes of music, food, ideas of sex, love, religious beliefs, and temperament.  What is lost can be found again.  But sometimes you need to cross a wide expanse to discover the closeness that was within all the time.  More I cannot tell you without giving away secrets so will leave it at that.

Martínez has done a masterful job of staging this show.  It’s amazing what wonders can be produced with just two chairs to represent different locations in the story.  There is also a beautiful panorama of the scenic part of the journey (Daniel Meeker) and some simple but specific lighting (Kristeen Willis Crosser), both pros in their fields, which add to narrative.  Both Garcia and Harder have graced the stage a lot and are both very good in the connecting roles they play to support the major story of the two women.  Torres and Cruz are excellent as the mother and daughter and are equally effective when they are explosive, as well as in the tender moments, and everything in between.  Without a doubt anyone can identify with the relationship of these four people, as Hudes has skirted the seams of ordinary people in extraordinary situations.

I recommend this play.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.

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