“Our Dear Dead Drug Lord” – Stray Cat Theatre

Theater Review – October 31, 2021


Stray Cat Theatre, Studio Theatre, Tempe Center for the Arts
Tempe, AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

As usual, Stray Cat Theatre doesn’t disappoint with its latest production, “Our Dear Dead Drug Lord” which winningly explores teenage alienation, sexual identity, handling racial injustice, religious struggles, the importance of rituals, and young people’s angst.  Four female high schoolers try to find the other’s weaknesses as their impressionable minds probe death and other monumental issues facing them as they try to come to terms with life and their place within it.  Alexis Scheer’s play took off-Broadway by storm in 2019 and the local production is only the second after New York.  Warnings are necessary.

The play deals with very challenging discoveries by this quartet of girls although the playwright instills it with bits of dripping humor among the many serious issues it discusses.  The four girls are typical wandering youths and their often-bizarre conclusions that later in life would net more mature approaches to these often-confusing life issues.  Late in the play there is a very graphic but necessary scene of debauchery which some may find upsetting.

The play’s very disturbing conclusion and much rough language may also off-put theatergoers who aren’t used to this degree of blatant honesty.  The four girls are members of a controversial school group called the Dead Leaders Club and they channel the ghost of the drug lord Pablo Escobar.  One of the members was responsible for a younger sister’s death and the group attempts to reconcile the killing using an association with the late drug lord.

The production is staged with clever bluntness by Virginia Olivieri that make these girls, enacted by a superb acting ensemble, appropriately juvenile in action and execution. These young performers, some with little or no previous stage experience, all demonstrate strong acting chops.

Angel Sicairos performs the prime role of Kit who does some unusual things that allow her to be the group’s sacrificial focus.  No less striking are the other three girls, Zoom, played with sullen torment by Jasmyn Gade, Pipe played commandingly by Shawnee Fierros Casas Richberger, and Jazmyne Plantillas’ literal Squeeze.  There are times the performers get a bit introspective so some dialogue gets lost.  Impressive stage design by Robert Andrews and vibrantly telling lighting by Dallas Robert Nichols add an evocative scenic element to this graphic play.

“Our Dear Dead Drug Lord” is done with aplomb and conviction by our unique theater troupe and is a welcome divergence from conventional theater.  “Our Dear Dead Drug Lord” plays through November 13.  Tickets may be obtained by calling 480-350-2822 or order online at www.straycattheatre.org.

Grade: A