I am thrilled that The Urban Theatre Company has returned to the Chicago stage. Despite the plethora of theatre companies in the city, another voice always adds to our cities theatrical vibrancy: the vibrancy that a number of years ago led the London paper The Guardian to proclaim Chicago: “The Theatre Capital of The World:” an accolade in which we rightly continue to relish. I am even more thrilled that they decided to set a play about Latin America, and the Hispanic-America experience in their new venue in the traditionally Latino neighborhood of Humbolt Park in a season in which it could not be more timely.
That, said I believe Lolita de Lares (Migdalia Cruz) will have limited appeal. The beginning of the play in which a priest (Andre Natefeli Perez) visits Lolita (Tamika Lecho Moralees) in her cell was extremely affecting. The dialogue and acting by Perez and Moralees were so superlative that I felt like I was watching reality rather than a play. That said, it quickly descends into experimental theatre that can’t even be called hyper-surrealism. It’s more like a child’s most bizarre nightmare. That’s not to say the play is puerile or childish. Indeed, this is a mean feat. However, the play is so distorted and unreal that I had trouble following any narrative and certainly had no idea in which decade each section of the play was supposed to take place. Overall, I think its appeal will be to those who like both experimental theatre, or are at least up for it, and have a keen interest in Social Justice, Latin-American history, and the Latino diaspora in America.
In this production, most actors played many parts (adding to the confusion) and hence my ability to signal only very few performances out as special, but most of the acting far exceeded competent. That said, the costume changes (Freddy Rocha and Serena Sandoval ) were done so seamlessly that the actors moved from character to character with complete credulity and the costumes of the completely non-human chorus in particular induced the feeling of nightmare and the choreography regarding them were beyond reproach (Director Marcela Munoz). Welcome back Urban Theatre Company! While, as I said this play, will have limited if high appeal to a niche community, I believe it is a harbinger of great things to come.
“Lolita de Lares” runs through July 24, 2016 at the Urban Theatre Company located at 2620 W. Division Street. Chicago.
Fridays 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays 7:30 p.m.
Sunday at 3 pm.
Regular Tickets are $20. Student Tickets are $10 and Senior tickets are $12. Residents with the zip code 60622 also receive discounted tickets at $10 They can be purchased by calling the box office at 312 767-8821 or online at www.urbantheaterchicago.org
Street parking is available (metered) and there are some great dining spots on Division.