Magical realism meets the harsh realities of barrio life in Virginia Grise's lyrical play. A stoic Soledad (Romi Dias) raises her children Blu (Xavi Moreno), Gemini (Alexandra Jimenez) and Lunatico (Phillip Garcia) in a violent neighborhood based on Boyle Heights. Aptly bearing the name of the ruthless Mexican Mafia, Eme (an inspired Luis Galindo), the children's father, is a gangbanger doing prison time. Swearing off men, Soledad builds a stable home with her lover Hailstorm (Diana Delacruz), a woman whom the children, particularly the headstrong Blu, don't always accept. Seduced by a military recruiter's promise of entre to a respected brotherhood, Blu swaps the war in the hood for the war in Iraq. There's an Ntozake ShangeÐlike dance happening onstage throughout, a series of choreographic outbursts that gorgeously juxtapose the effrontery of oppressed young people and the Herculean effort it takes to dream beyond oppression. The actors grab hold of their characters with swagger and passion. Director Laurie Carlos brings precision and artful rhythm to the piece, and Rafa Esparza's set is a dreamy rooftop escape from the unsafe streets. Company of Angels has a mission of depicting the "80 percent of the Los Angeles area population that rarely sees itself on stage in Los Angeles." They hit that mark here and keep a skillful eye on dramaturgy (the dramaturg is Ricardo A. Bracho) in the process. Company of Angels at the Alexandria Hotel, 501 S. Spring St., dwntwn.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Nov. 13. (323) 489-3703, companyofangels.org.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Starts: Oct. 14. Continues through Nov. 13, 2011