This ensemble piece from the Latino Theater Lab serves as a disquieting reminder that the fortunate survivors of war quite often become its most heart-rending victims. Directed by Jose Luis Valenzuela, Melancholia tells the story of Mario, an idealistic young man from East Los Angeles who thought a stint in the Marines would pay his way through college, but who returns from Iraq an emotional and psychological basket case. The story is principally told from the vantage point of Mario's fractured psyche (three actors accent this division: Sam Golzari, Xavi Moreno and Ramiro Segovia) through surrealistic flashbacks alternating between past and present, fantasy and reality — starting with a homecoming party on New Year's Eve that slowly transforms into a nightmarish recounting of Mario's life before and after his tour of duty. The contrast between the fun-loving, gung-ho youth who enlists hoping for a better life and the tormented, broken man who returns after losing his best friend — and his own soul — is striking. Death and mystery haunt the stage in the chilling figures of a veiled female clad in black and two impish characters (Fidel Gomez, Alexis de la Rocha). Valenzuela skillfully blends elements of music and choreography into this timely play, and his sizable ensemble performs efficiently in multiple roles. Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring St. Dwntwn. Thu.-Sat., 8 pm., Sun. at 3 p.m.; through April 7. Dark on Easter Sunday, March 31. (866) 811-4111,

Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Starts: March 16. Continues through April 14, 2013

LA Weekly