Tuesday, February 14, 2017

reviews - LA ESQUINITA, USA - Arizona Theatre Company

Rubén C. González
Photo by Tim Fuller
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through February 26th.

"...Rubén C. González's one man show La Esquinita, USA brings to life ten colorful characters in a small U.S. bordertown where the people and the city have all fallen on hard times. While it isn't a completely successful venture, it is exceptionally directed with rich creative elements, and González is a master craftsman in his ability to breathe life into these characters as he effortlessly transforms from one to another. ...The story centers on Daniel, a drugged out high school student who desperately needs money to pay off his debt to his dealer and who dreams of getting out of this broken-down town to join the military. ..González presents an interesting tale and eloquently establishes both a place and people that we've all seen, heard of, or come in contact with....While this play premiered back in 2010 it is clearly still just as relevant today. Director Kinan Valdez's firm touch and the superb lighting design by Michael Oesch and evocative sound design by Anahuac Valdez help assist González as he weaves together these divergent characters. The changes in light and sound transform the stage as quickly as González morphs, with changes in his vocal inflection and body language from character to character. It all plays out on Regina Garcia's excellent set that portrays a chainlink fence outside the abandoned factory with discarded tires and garbage scattered around a bus stop where Daniel waits for a bus that seems to never come. While González is exceptional in his portrayal of these disparate and desperate people, there are a few moments in his play where slightly unfocused themes or characters are introduced and it is unclear what, if any, point they have in the plot. ...Also, the ending is ambivalent, possibly to make us decide for ourselves what we think would happen to Daniel and the people we've met. ...makes it seem unfinished and even somewhat disappointing to not know what happened to this anxious young man. While I wish it were somewhat clearer and had a better ending, La Esquinita, USA is an intriguing character study that puts the spotlight on the many small towns across the land whose inhabitants find their once booming area now desolate and their dreams no longer within reach." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

".Ruben C. Gonzalez’ “La Esquinita, USA,” ....deals with ten distinctive ghetto characters as they grapple daily with the often unfair world they live in.  It’s powerful theater....Not only is Gonzalez the skilled interpreter of these roles, he also wrote the poetically beautiful play that he brings to vibrant life. A  warning.  “La Esquinita, USA” will not be every theater-goers cup-of-tea.  The play’s a downer as it pictures a realistic life that many of the audience will never have experienced or even fully understand.  But attendance at the play will enlighten many patrons to things that happen in the contemporary life of people who live on the sidelines of society’s successes....The play makes its points in one continuous flow of reality.  It runs an hour-and-a- half without intermission as it eloquently forces audiences to live in a world they don’t know much about and is dark and hopeless.  While some characters seem destined to escape their lifestyle, others will be trapped... The play “contains mature language and subject matter” so if blatant honesty upsets you, stay away.  If dramatically stirring insight into a huge segment of our population will provide perspective and understanding, attend this play and be amazed at what you learn. ." --Chris Curcio, KBAQ (click here to read the complete review)

COMING SOON - Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic (click here to read the complete review)

"... LA ESQUINITA, USA, Rubén C. González's metaphor for neighborhoods that time and economy forgot, where the streets are now boulevards of broken dreams, and where hope is replaced by ennui and meth...Gonzalez is a consummate urban poet, blending the languages of the street and the idiosyncrasies of his characters into a rhythmic and harmonious revelation of uncomfortable truths and challenging possibilities...Directed by El Teatro's Producing Artistic Director, Kinan Valdez, Gonzalez delivers a rock solid and emotionally potent performance about a time and a place and human beings with which we all need to be familiar and for which we are obliged to find and share solutions. ...LA ESQUINITA, USA is an extraordinary testament to the importance of such a genre in the continuum of modern theatre. " -Herbert Paine, Broadway World (click here to read the complete review)

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