Reviewed by Guy Picot

With a wall being built, and harrowing stories of children being separated from their parents, the border with Mexico has been very much in the news recently. Timely then, that playwright Carlos Lacamara should revise his 2006 one-act play Nowhere on the Border (Jan 17-Mar 8) about a border watch volunteer and the Mexican man he apprehends. The piece is currently playing at The Road Theatre Company in North Hollywood.

Roberto (Jonathan Nichols) is looking for his daughter, Pilar, who was last heard-of attempting to cross the border into Arizona. Gary (Chet Grissom) doesn’t quite buy this story and summons the real border patrol, suspecting Roberto is a drug smuggler.

The long wait for the border patrol is broken up by scenes detailing Pilar’s perilous journey. Pilar (Natalie Llerena) pays a fixer (Thom Rivera) to get her into the US to join her husband. She finds herself paired up with fellow traveler Jesus (Leandro Cano) and they are led across the desert by the angry and incompetent Montoya (Diana Delacruz)

Guitarist Mackenzie Redvers Bryce provides classical interludes between scenes and remains unobtrusively on stage throughout.

During their vigil, we learn that both Roberto and Gary have been tossed aside in middle-age, Roberto getting laid off from a copper mine, and Gary losing his job as a steelworker when production was outsourced abroad, he is now doing his bit for his country, as he sees it, to honor a son who is serving in Iraq.

I’m guessing that the rewriting was mainly to incorporate the use of a camera-phone and have text messages and videos projected on the back wall. Compared to the atrocities we see on the news, the story itself seems almost nostalgic in its underlying decency: Two men, ostensibly adversaries, come to respect each other by recognizing their shared humanity.

The direction by Stewart J. Zully is brisk and clever without ever being tricksy. The simple desert set by Paul Dufresne, serves both strands of the story well, aided by lighting by Derrick McDaniel and projections by Nicholas Santiago.

The excellent cast all make the most of Lacamara’s rich and characterful dialogue, with Nichols being particularly strong as the wise and wily Roberto.

Recommended

Photo (above) by Brian M. Cole:  Chet Grissom and Jonathan Nichols 

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