‘26 Miles’ is quite the trip!
|Teatro Vista and Rivendell Theatre Ensemble present|
|Written by Quiara Alegria Hudes
Directed by Tara Mallen
at Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago (map)
through November 21 | tickets: $25 | more info
Reviewed by Katy Walsh
The distance between Philadelphia and Wyoming is 1,835 miles. The distance between a mother and daughter is further away and closer than that. Teatro Vista and Rivendell Theatre Ensemble present the Midwest premiere of 26 Miles by Tony-Award winning playwright Quiara Alegria Hudes. Quirky teenager Olivia runs away from her dad’s house. She is assisted in the escape by her mother. After throwing up fifteen times, Olivia is desperate for someone to care. She calls her biological mother, Beatriz, who had given up custody and visitation rights eight years earlier. In fact, according to Olivia’s journal log, Beatriz hasn’t spoken to her daughter in five months. A spontaneous road trip to see buffalo becomes a journey of self-realization for mother and daughter. With a jamming 80’s soundtrack, 26 Miles is a trip of discovery that takes some surprising turns.
Playwright Quiara Alegria Hudes doesn’t rush to the destination. Hudes allows the characters to continue to identify themselves right up until the show comes to a complete stop. The mother-daughter duo drives the experience perfectly. Ashley Neal (Olivia) is hilarious as the creative philosophical teenager. She muses her journal thoughts out loud with “note: do I believe in…” She publishes a magazine. Neal is that high school geek that is too smart to fit in. Her animated face adds another layer of humor to her stellar performance. Sandra Marquez (Beatriz) is the feisty Cuban mother. Marquez rages with impulsiveness. Unlike Neal’s character, Marquez is not easily recognizable. As the M.I.A. mom, Marquez has to work extra hard to win the audience over. Marquez commits for the long haul! She faces the situation with wise resignation of ‘it’s not good. It’s not bad. It’s like erosion. It just is.’ Keith Kupferer (Aaron) and Edward Torres (Manuel) are the guys that cause the gals to run. They take a back seat to the mother-daughter bonding. Although their supporting roles are important, it’s their amusing scene transition antics that are most memorable.
Director Tara Mallen has mapped the journey with purposeful appeal. Mallen doesn’t settle with poignant performances by a talented cast. She adds in paper flying, music blaring and Blues Brothers’ scene transitions. The extras provide the scenic route on what could be a long road trip. The scenery itself also supplies a subtle layer of storytelling. The set, designed by Regina Garcia, has a slanted floor with suspended stairs that don’t quite connect. The backdrop is a snippet of Olivia’s journal with pictures and words. It’s a trip! Teatro Vista and Rivendell travel well together; all the parts work together for high performance. It’s the truly collaborative effort that catapults 26 Miles to go the distance.
26 Miles plays every Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 3pm through November 21st. Running time is 90-minutes with no intermission.
Assistant Director: Joe Minoso (Teatro Vista, Actors Equity Association)
Stage Manager: Jaclyn Holsey (Actors Equity Association)
Production Manager: Patrick Fries (Rivendell Theatre Ensemble)
Set Design: Regina Garcia
Costume Design: Christine Pascual (Teatro Vista)
Lighting Design: Diane Fairchild (Rivendell Theatre Ensemble)
Sound Design: Mikhail Fiksel (Teatro Vista)
Assistant Sound Design: Miles Polaski
Props Design: Julie Silver
Dramaturg: Kyra Lewandowski
Technical Director: Kurt Kupferer (Rivendell Theatre Ensemble)
Box Office Manager: Trisha Hooper (Rivendell Theatre Ensemble)
Graphic Design: Melissa Blumenthal
Public Relations: Jay Kelly, L.C. Williams & Associates
3 Words: Enjoying the Nescafe Classico, Kevin describes the show with “Esta muy bueno”