Saturday November 18th 2017

“Water & Power”

Somewhat Recommended ** For eleven years I have been following The Urban Theater Company . This is the small storefront on Division Street (on Paseo Boricua), in the “heart” of Chicago’s Puerto Rican community. Part of the beauty of this company is bringing their culture to the stage, allowing the populace of Chicago to see theater from the mind of another “people”. I have cherished  watching this company grow into what it has become. Their current production is entitled “Water & Power” and is written by Richard Montoya, a California native who grew up involved in Civil Rights and continues to use his performance work to re-enforce his feelings and beliefs.

This play is about two brothers, twins, Power ( solidly played by Ivan Vega) and Water (deftly handled by Dennis Garcia). Power is a police officer in the Chicago Police Department. Water, a politician. Their names are not really Power and Water, but their father, who worked for The Power and Water Department called them this and instilled in them the feeling that they could be anything they wanted as long as they worked the “power and water” to get there.

I believe that the original play was written in another locality and that either the company or Director Richard Perez chose to make the story more “Chicago” by adding many signs and images of our city. I became a bit confused by this, as our set (Caswell James) appears to be a flea-bag motel on Division Street, yet, there are no areas such as this on Division Street. Lincoln Avenue would be the perfect  spot, but since they refer to being South Side, I would think around Midway (Cicero Avenue between Roosevelt Road and Cermak could have worked better.

There were also mentions of Harold Washington and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, so again, some confusion. In fact, many areas and places that are mentioned caused more confusion taking away from a story that I wanted to learn more about. The boy’s father (played by Juan Delgado, who also portrays other roles) teaches them the ways of the world. He is a true Mexican who was married to a Puerto Rican, who dies giving birth to them, and so it is his job to raise them to be strong, no matter what. As we learn from our story narrator, Norte/Sur (means North/South played to perfection by Andrew Neftali Perez) Power is locked in this hotel to escape being tracked down by the police. He has killed a man!

I do not want to give away much of the story, but there are as I said earlier some very confusing parts of this play. We see both of the boys, Gibby and Gabby (played by young Gabriel Elias Gonzalez) being taught the ways of the world by their father. This young actor also plays the symbol “Deer Dancer”, a talisman for their lives and futures. Each of these boys grows up wanting to be good and to do good for their people and themselves, but as they age and face the ways of the world, they find that power often gets in the way. Each, in their own way hits obstacles that change the direction of their intentions, and each finds that in order to do what they must, others must suffer.

There is another character in this 90 minute (no intermission) story. He is The Fixer ( a smart performance by Mike Cherry). His role is to make sure that the two brothers stay alive and continue to protect each other. In order to have this happen, Water must change his flow. Again, not wanting to give away any of the story, I will leave it there. I found the acting outstanding and the technical portions of the production: lighting (Meghan Erxleben), sound (Perry Landes) and fight choreography (Johnny Moran) along with the amazing props (Sara Carranza) to be worthy of  a higher rating, but the confusion in the story with the flashbacks and symbols left me wondering if this might have been better off as a two act play with greater explanations of the symbols used.

I will be very interested in hearing what you might have to say. “Water & Power” will continue at Batey Urbano located at 2620 West Division Street in Chicago’s Puerto Rican neighborhood thru July 22nd with performances as follows:

Thursdays  7:30 p.m.

Fridays  7:30 p.m.

Saturdays  7:30 p.m.

Sundays  3 p.m.

Tickets are $20 and can be ordered by calling 773-347-1203 or online at  www.urbantheaterchicago.org/water-power/

Street parking is not a problem-metered

To see what others are saying, visit , go to Review Round-up and click at “Water & Power”.   “from the streets to the stage!”

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