Detained in the Desert
The topic of immigration is a hot button topic, especially in Arizona. The state well known for its dry heat will now be remembered for immigrants crossing the border. But what exactly is the problem? Why is this topic causing such a ruckus? Too many issues are being talked about but how much of it is understood? Enter playwright/actress/producer Josefina López. López has garnered acclaim for her play turned movie Real Women Have Curves (2002), starring Ugly Betty star America Ferrera. In Detained in the Desert, Sandi Sanchez (the talented Yvonne de la Rosa) drives cross country with her hot-looking Caucasian boyfriend Tyler Cook (Matt Williams). They get pulled over by an Arizona Police Officer (Mark Burnham). He immediately targets Sandi, since she’s more brown than Tyler, and demands to see some form of identification. Sandi refuses saying that she’s an American and doesn’t have to show ‘no stinking I.D.’ Matt, on the other hand, tries to diffuse the situation and urges Sandi to show her I.D. She still refuses and gets arrested with the next step being deportation.
Meanwhile, radio DJ Lou Becker (the wonderful Carey Fox) happily sits in the KRZT radio studio spewing out racist comments of these damn immigrants crossing the border and expects some level of sympathy and help. He has beef with bleeding liberal heart Ernesto Martinez (Alex Castillo) who has the audacity to help those crossing the border by providing red flags in certain areas of the desert, signaling gallons of water are nearby. Becker and Martinez go toe-to-toe loudly explaining their views. Then, something remarkable happens. Becker gets captured by three kidnappers. Tired of his belligerent comments about Mexicans and the border the two brothers and sister (Angel Fajardo, Federico Patiňo and Elizabeth Frances) take the boisterous Becker and turn him into what he despises: a crosser of the border.
He is tied up and humiliated down to his ultra pink boxer shorts, barbeque sauce smeared over his body and being denied water. He manages to escape and meets Sandi on the road to freedom. Has Lou learned his lesson now that he had an experience that immigrants have everyday? Well, he does somewhat. As for Sandi, all her nightmares of being a Latina came true. She wears the unbecoming orange jumpsuit, used by detainees. Matt comes back to get her but she refuses to leave. She wants him to tell the newspapers what’s going on. Matt just wants to get the hell out of there. He’s not itching to be a hero.
De la Rosa has a very heartwarming, poignant scene with Erin Prieto who plays Milagro, the girl that Sandi teased in elementary school. Sandi begs forgiveness for not being strong enough to shut up the naysayers and be an ally to Milagro. Tears stream down her dirty, covered in dust face as she recalls that memory. Milagro, means “miracle” in Spanish, lives up to her name and forgives Sandi. The women forge a new friendship.
López brought out humor and touching affect on a delicate subject matter. She successfully shows both sides of the issue while director Hector Rodriguez does an incredible job in successfully executing the reality of immigration and how it affects everyone. Detained in the Desert is a must see for its humorous and emotive points. It’s an eye-opening production that will be the topic of discussion after the show.
Detained in the Desert runs Friday and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 5p.m. until Sunday, November 21 located at Casa 0101 located at 2009 E. First Street, in Los Angeles. For ticket information call (323) 263-7684 or reserve online at www.casa0101.org