"El Paso Blue", the new English/Chicano language play currently performing at GALA Theatre conforms to standard; well produced, strongly acted and brilliantly directed; the set design powerful and the lighting unique.
It's no accident that GALA Theatre has just received 6 Helen Hayes awards including best play of the season for Garcia Lorca's "Yerma". Rarely has Gala Theatre even received notice from the Hayes committee much less 6 awards topped by a play of the year in Spanish. Thus the Washington theatre establishment recognizes one of our long standing cultural jewels - El Teatro GALA.
"El Paso Blue" is a funky, boozy, low life tale of love and loss, an Oedipal tragedy of nutty, forlorn implications. Set in the deep Southwest it pits a mindless drifter, Al, (Andres Talero) against his manipulative buddy Duane (Bob Sheire) and angry father (Lawrence Redmond) for the love of Sylvie, a bleach blonde misfit who feels like a refugee out of the Grand Ole Opry right down to her boots and cutoff jeans, willfully played by Veronica Del Cerro. But the real scene stealer is the serape wrapped, cowboy hat covered Chicana who goes by the moniker 'la China' and provides a kind of Greek chorus to the oeuvre, guiding poor Al to his ignominy and horrifying end. Alina Collins Maldonado does a superb job as the embittered 'bruja' who's seen it all but secretly longs for the hapless Al underneath a gruff, cynical exterior whose mantra is ' a la chingada con todos' (fuck everyone).
The play, written by Octavio Solis, one of many new USA based, Hispanic American literary luminaries on the current scene, is in English with a great deal of Chicano slang. The raunchy, powerful and poetic language provides a particular obstacle for GALA Theatre where theatre goers are used to hearing their stories in Spanish. It is causing difficulties for what should be a sold out show every night.
Jose Luis Carrasquillo, the Director of this splendid tragicomedy, is becoming quite a household word around GALA. His direction populates each season with stunning, groundbreaking shows that stretch the limits of the theatre's capacity. He's tackled some of the most difficult artists of our time including Vargas Llosa, (The Young Lady From Tacna), Fernando Arrabal, (the and Emperor of Assyria) and other he has directed a number of outstanding, award nominated productions. The program describes Carrasquillo as 'a GALA company member'. What is certain is that his productions have a certain élan and grace that mark his and the theatre's style.
If you enjoy good theatre you shouldn't miss "El Paso Blue", an attractive spectacle in any language. Head to GALA's website www.galatheatre.org for more details and to purchase tickets. The show will last until Sunday, June 26th. Don't wait, visit now!