“La Esquinita, USA” – Arizona Theatre Company

Theater Review – February 13, 2017


Arizona Theatre Company, Herberger Theater Center
Phoenix, AZ

Ruben C. Gonzalez’ “La Esquinita, USA,” produced locally by Arizona Theatre Company, is an amazingly timely play considering the pronouncements we hear daily from our commander-in-chief.  The play deals with ten distinctive ghetto characters as they grapple daily with the often unfair world they live in.  It’s powerful theater.

A single actor portrays everyone in a tour-de-force performance that demands every bit of Ruben C. Gonzalez’ marvelous creative skills as he crafts these people who feel the existence they know isn’t fair or just.  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 characters presented are young people who can’t find their place in the complex world that is pictured as full of rich opportunity.  They want to fit in and be productive but can’t.  Drugs are a constant threat as they go into debt to use these substances to escape the reality they must endure.  They live in fear that their debts will be called and if they can’t comply, they may be killed.  It’s a miserable existence.

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 is set in an abandoned tire factory in a small border town where most of the Mexican workers come across the border to work.  The factory closed and moved to China destroying the community where the business doesn’t care about the workers who relocated to staff the plant but are now left wondering what they will do.

Playwright Gonzalez creates the ten characters he has invented.  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.  “La Esquinita, USA” continues through February 26 at the Herberger Theater Center.  To order tickets, call the Arizona Theatre Company box office at 602-256-6995 or order tickets online at www.arizonatheatre.org.

Grade: B