By Jesus Figueroa
A colorful set build the dream like mood which fills the trilingual play “Piñata Dreams” with a cartoon feel.
Writer Josefina Lopez brings an original Hispanic story told in English and Spanish, translated into American Sign Language, to the stage of Casa 0101 in Los Angeles, California.
Most actors play several parts as well as narrate a section of the play.
The play begins as young J.J., played by Noah Logan Martinez, sells his first piñata, which he made by hand, at his father’s piñata shop.
All characters except the main character J.J. wear masks. The narrators do not wear masks, they step out into the spot light and make themselves stand out from being characters in the story.
Martinez is a character as he expresses many emotions through body language.
J.J.’s father, played by David Guerra, tells the stories of J.J.’s mother’s death, their passion for piñatas, the history behind the shop and the folk tales of piñatas.
Guerra is an over powering, funny character who seems the most cartoony of the cast. His movements are exaggerated and the mannerisms he uses make his word pop out.
J.J.’s grandmother, played by Evy De La Cruz, makes albrijes, little creatures muck like tiny piñatas which are said to guide a lost soul, and discovers that J.J. struggled with school because he has difficulty reading.
De La Cruz plays off of Martinez and Guerra well as she compliments both of their acting to create a cohesive family unit.
As J.J. expresses his fondness for being and piñata maker, a big chain party supply store opens across the street. The store threatens to drive J.J.’s father out of business, as he can’t afford to compete with prices.
He announces he is planning to sell the store and in a fit of rage J.J. runs away. Not wanting to see his father, J.J. sleeps at the piñata shop.
In the middle of the night he is awaken by voices which lead him to a world where piñatas and albrijes are alive.
The real world in the play is bright and colorful adding to the cartoon-like feel and as the play goes into the dream world where piñatas are real it gets dark.
Although the dream world is dark, the colorful stage serves to keep the lively pace of the play cheerful.
Although the play is child-friendly, there are parts that may scare younger audiences. But as much of the costumes are cheerful, even the villains of the play are not overly frightening.
The ending brings the message of the play together and serves to solidify the storyline. It comes at the right time and does not drag out.
“Piñata Dreams” is a 50-minute long play which has no intermissions. It is playing now through Dec. 28 at Casa 0101. For more information or to buy tickets visit casa0101.org.