When we are little we all have dreams. Some are fanciful, some we can actually achieve if we put our minds to it, but the important thing is the dream itself. The idea of the dream is what makes life easier. For Emilia and Evangelina, characters in Daniel Serrano’s Roma al Final de la Vía (Rome at the End of the Line), now playing at the 24th Street Theatre, that dream is Rome.
24th Street Theatre is a fabulous little place located in downtown Los Angeles near USC. They mix theater, with education and social service. They help those in need and strive to teach the magic of theater to young audiences. Their building is an old carriage house that they have turned into a magnificent theater and workspace, as well as a community center. The stage is huge and can be seen as a great space for classes. The chairs are comfortable and also have small desks attached (that fold down for comfort) that remind you that this is a place of imagination and education.
However after watching Norma Angélica and Julieta Ortiz in Roma al Final de la Vía, it is obvious that 24 Street Theatre also strives to present absolutely incredible theater. Though this production is done entirely in Spanish with English Supertitles, which are projected on a screen in the back of the stage, it does not take away from the production if you do not understand Spanish. Though some of the translations go a bit fast at times, because of the speed of speech the actresses are using, the jest of what they are saying does come across.
Emilia (Ortiz) and Evangelina (Angélica) dream of leaving Mexico and running away to Rome. They make the journey to the railroad tracks, hoping to jump onto the train to begin their dream six different times throughout their lives. They go at age 7, 13, 20, 40, 60 and finally at 80, where their journey ends. The play is a moving piece about, life, love, lost dreams and ultimately friendship. Ortiz and Angélica are masters of their craft. Playing the six different ages to humorous and heartbreaking levels. Angélica’s face as the seven-year-old Evangelina is absolutely priceless. She is naive and nervous and not as adventurous as her best friend. Ortiz is daring and hopeful at every age. Growing a little more tired, while watching her dream become desperation, as a life she had not intended upon envelops her.
Supporting the phenomenal acting was trans-formative directing and lighting by Alberto Lomnitz (lighting was also done by Ismael Carrasco). Lomnitz left the stage very bare, with only stage blocks helping the actresses to create the obstacle course that was their path to the railroad tracks. With the sounds of the fast moving beast, and lights of the windows whizzing by the actresses; the lighting and sound made their much anticipated and often missed train, undoubtedly real.
Roma al Final de la Vía is a story that is good for any age. 24th Street Theatre encourages parents to bring their teenagers (suggested ages are 12 or older). They hope to infuse the passion that a good theater production can bring into the younger generation. This beautifully presented production would be a good one to do that with. It provides lessons and warnings to younger audiences, as well as reflection and comedy to the older generations. It is a limited engagement and one that I highly suggest.
Roma al Final de la Vía runs every Saturday at 2 and 7:30 and Sundays at 2 until October 7th.
For more information about the theatre itself please read Amy Tofte’s article for the LA Stage Times: “Rome Finds a Home at 24th street’s Community Center”.