A NoHo Arts theater review of Loft Ensemble’s production of “Concrete Jungle (A Chicano Horror Story),” written by Travyz Santos Gatz, co-directed by Mitch Rosander and Ignacio Navarro running through April 23.
This new play, “Concrete Jungle,” produced by the Loft Ensemble is loosely based on Bertolt Brecht’s “In The Jungle of Cities.” The drama revolves around the two main characters’ rivalry, Jorge Garcia and a local man, and a successful businessman called Slink. After Jorge gets fired from his job because of Slink’s carelessness, he vows revenge, buys a gun and tries to shoot Slink. Slink, always the opportunist, trades his factory for his life. But, Jorge doesn’t know the business has already been sold and he also doesn’t understand how this sudden flood of responsibility can change him.
It’s a chess match, basically, with Jorge’s sister catching Slink’s eye and their Auntie Maria favoring him over her own nephew who has always looked after them both. However, with Jorge absent, they fall happily into Slink’s arms, as does Jorge’s girlfriend. The sister and girlfriend are persuaded to sell themselves for money and, when Jorge does eventually return from his brooding, his entire world has fallen apart.
The play is told as a series of scenes punctuated by poetic monologues and in the Brechtian playhouse style, with the prose told mostly directly to the audience, which is an interesting way of continuously breaking the 4th wall.
So the audience is always aware of the absurdity of the story, however accurately rooted in social commentary it is. How money always passes from hand to hand, sometimes stolen, sometimes given, sometimes traded for a life. Money is meaningless, unless of course, you don’t have any.
The Loft theater is a wonderful playhouse space, so it lends itself to this kind of performance. The music is also a major player in the production and sets every scene perfectly. The actors performances are great, interesting, challenging and thoughtful. Although to be fair, this Brechtian style is almost comedic in its delivery by intent – brutal, sadistic, cruel. So there’s a kind of desperation in the action, something’s always off, an absence of real emotion, which is portrayed really very well.
If you like your theater with a sense of the macabre, the desolate and the sadistic, then “Concrete Jungle” is for you!
It’s only running through April 23. The Loft Ensemble offers “donate what you want” for this show, you just have to RSVP on their website. Lucky us !! So support your local NoHo Arts District theater !!
Lemon Baardsen, Macedonia Bullington, Berenice Diaz, Kathleen Guevara, Sydney Jenkins, Jordan Klomp, Matt Lorenzo, and Alejandro Mungaray
Running April 23, Friday & Saturday at 8pm; Sunday at 7pm
11031 Camarillo St, North Hollywood, 91602