Culture Clash’s Bordertown Now is more relevant than ever. The show, playing now until June 24 at The Pasadena Playhouse, is a compelling, up to the minute update on the tragic state of our Southern border. Director Diane Rodriguez builds a surreal world in the middle of the Arizona desert via a stark setting by Scenic Designer Efren Delgadillo, Jr. This bleak landscape punctured by a dead tree and a giant security fence is the play’s ground zero, where lives collide and we see the human toll of our country’s broken immigration laws.
The show opens with Richard Montoya and Ricardo Salinas as two hipster Chicano filmmakers being apprehended by Herbert Sigüenza as a camo-clad vigilante in full military gear sporting an AR-15; a self-professed defender of the country’s border. To him, the two American filmmakers may as well be “wets”, as he refers to the people he so gleefully “hunts.” The dialogue is smart and the actors nimbly transform into real characters with strong points of view, each standing up for what they believe.
There is plenty of comedy andirony as characters like the hipster Chicanos interact with the denizens of the Arizona desert. From the most powerful like the infamous Sheriff Arapaio to a penniless Mexican teacher who is hip to all things American and vows to keep crossing the border, the actor/reporters take us deep into the lives of the hunters and the hunted, showing the human face of the Border.
The beautifully poetic script is written and acted masterfully by Culture Clash: Richard Montoya, Herbert Sigüenza and Ricardo Salinas who were joined by Guest Artist Sabina Zúñiga Varela. The actors are chameleon-like in their portrayals of different roles, each completely inhabiting the character. Richard Montoya’s portrayal of Sheriff Arpaio is at once infuriating and pitiful. One feels the old man’s desperate
bravado in Montoya’s very human portrayal. Sigüenza, who was seen of late starring as Pablo Picasso, transforms completely from the patriotic vigilante at the border to a spot-on African-American newspaper reporter in San Diego in a scene that links the killings of undocumented immigrants at the border to police killings of young Africa-American boys on the streets. Ricardo Salinas charms and draws big laughs as a young Salvadoran immigrant trying to explain to the audience the convoluted history between his country and the United States. And Zúñiga Varela wows as the undocumented teacher who is a serial border-crosser. Run, don’t walk, to see this production playing at the Pasadena Playhouse until June 24. Tickets and More Information.