By Ricardo Pimenta
Casa 0101, a creative safe haven for the youth of Boyle Heights, introduces a powerhouse of a play with “Light in the Darkness.”
Written by Victor Tamayo, then adapted and directed by Ramon “Monxies” Flores, who with the help of Producer Emmanuel Deleage, “Light in the Darkness” ventures deep into the life of a gangster in Boyle Heights
“Light in the Darkness” offers audiences a window into the struggling gang life of Carlos “Shotgun” Alvarado, a tough southsider portrayed by Johnny Ortiz.
Along with 18 other actors, this group of thespians brings about an amazing performance complete with humor, sorrow, mystery, resentment and joy.
The production team who created an ambience of true talent, bringing the audience into each scene of the play.
With a backdrop of a sunny afternoon at Hollenbeck Park, Sandman, played by Aurelio Yeiyotal Medina, enters and starts making drug deals at the park, setting up a character who continually meddles in the story.
Medina portrayed his role exceptionally well, depicting “Sandman” as a hothead of a man taking advantage of the people who surround him, always claiming “it’s business.”
After a murder by Carlos’ own hand, his life is thrown into a struggle between his mind, body, and spirit.
With each life he takes he continually faces off with “Tezcatlipoca.”
The duality of the play is great, having an aztec god/warrior coming in contact with a modern day gangster/warrior.
Carlos continually battles with his drug usage, choosing the dangerous and seductive life of a gangbanger over his girlfriend Liz, played by Sara Aceves.
An exceptional depiction of Carlos’ inner demons would have to be a scene where he brings out a belt and wraps it around his arm.
He tightens and bites down on the belt, holding it in place to stick the needle in his vein.
It’s clear that he’s trying to escape his personal demons.
Ortiz masterfully shows off the impotence of his character’s nature, retreating to drugs as an escape from the problems that constantly rear their ugly heads.
“Light in the Darkness” ventures deep into the life of a gangster in Boyle Heights as the life of a gang member is cut short, from being killed in a shootout, locked up in prison or left strung out on a chair by yourself.
All of Carlos’ choices affect the people around him, and every action he takes creates a reaction from the world he lives in.
The production inspire the lives of troubled youth, giving them an insight into the life that their path may lead to.
Gang problems are ever present as this production looks deep into the pain and regret the lifestyle can inflict on their loved ones.
It takes a harsh and realistic look on how choices can affect one’s life. It never strays away from the message it conveys.
“Light in the Darknesss” runs two hours with a 10 minute intermission and will run until Sept. 29.
Casa 0101 is located at 2102 E. First Street, Los Angeles CA. 90033.