Stage Raw: Baby It's You

Stage Raw: Baby It's You

Photo by Fritz Davis

Regina Louise's monodrama centers on her role as a black child in search of a family.  She was abandoned by both her mother and father. Over the years she was sent to more than 30 foster homes, most of which she fled. A counselor in a children's home where she was sent loved her and wanted to adopt her -- but the authorities forbid it, since the counselor was white, and they insisted that she needed a black upbringing. She desperately wanted to be with someone who cared about her, but that didn't concern the bureaucrats. It's a fascinating rags-to-riches tale (she eventually wrote and sold a successful autobiography), but there's something slightly schizophrenic about the way she tells it. She talks about her utter powerlessness to control her own destiny, yet she emerges as a highly confident, competent, and savvy young woman. Would be nice to know how she got there. She tells us she has a son, but we never learn the circumstances of his birth, or the identity of the father.  Louise is a deft writer-actor and singer who threads songs through her narrative. But I kept ruminating on the story's crucial aspects that she left out. Lee Sankowich directs. The Zephyr Theatre, 7456 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Oct. 5. (323) 960-7738 or   http:/'ssomebody" (Neal Weaver) 

NEW REVIEW THY KINGDOM COME In his theatrical debut, playwright Jarad Sanchez explores a little known corner of Mexican history, dramatizing how the inhabitants of the village of Yanga overthrew their colonial masters and became the first free town in the Americas.  While the African slave Yanga (Joel Virgil), for whom the town was named, primarily orchestrated the battle against Spain, a fierce Aztec slave named Santiago (Ryan De Mesa) becomes the focus of the play's action when he is forced to care for the infant of a colonial master who is killed during a revolt.  Despite the rich source material, and the important story, the heavy-handed exposition and the lack of depth in both the dialogue and character relationships fail to mask the fact that Sanchez initially wrote this for the screen.  Elizabeth Otero's direction similarly doesn't theatricalize the material effectively, with her brisk pacing of the short scenes leaving one hungry for higher stakes and fuller character exploration, as well as greater use of nonverbal nuance.  Tony Carranza's costumes, however, are both aesthetically appealing and appear historically accurate. As always, CASA 0101 fulfills an important role in the community and should be applauded for presenting a story that, with some adjustments, has the potential to powerfully dramatize the intersection of African and Latino colonial history.  CASA 0101, 2009 E. First St., East L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru October 4. (323) 263-7684.  (Mayank Keshaviah)


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