Review “La Ruta” (Steppenwolf Theatre): Gentler Version of Reality

Monday, December 31, 2018 Permalink 0

Steppenwolf Theatre presents the World Premiere of LA RUTA.

Mexican women are being hunted in their own home country. Over the last few decades, it’s been reported 1,400 have been killed and thousands more are still missing. Women disappear. If they reappear, they have been raped, mutilated, dismembered, killed. Thousands remain missing. These ‘lost’ women are an unresolved, agonizing nightmare for their families. 

The reality of this story is horrific! 

Playwright Issac Gomez attempts to play homage to this crisis beyond U.S. borders. Although the subject matter is gut-punching, Gomez’s storytelling, based on real women, lacks tension and real emotional engagement. He starts out strong. His set-up is compelling as two mothers, Charín Alvarez (Marisela) and Sandra Delgado (Yoli), wait at the bus stop for their daughters. 

Alvarez steadfastly meets the bus every day hoping to see her daughter arrive after two months of being missing. Delgado listens to Alvarez sympathetically as she searches for her daughter Brenda among the passengers. When Brenda fails to get off the first bus and then the next one, Delgado faces the inconceivable, her daughter has been taken. 

Gomez tells Brenda’s story through flashbacks. Projections with a time stamp count back past moments. In a flashback, Cher Álvarez (Brenda) starts her new job at a sweat shop. Karen Rodriguez (Ivonne) befriends Alvarez and teaches her the trade. Disgruntled workers protest conditions. Fast forward back to present day as an upset Alvarez questions Delgado’s friendship. 

Although the projected countdown announcing “Three weeks before Brenda went missing” is a thriller-like technique, the back and forth in time breaks any suspense. The scenes almost stand alone. There is not an overarching substantive mystery. The horror of women being hunted isn’t centerstage. It’s tucked in the corner in a graveyard of pink crosses.      

Although LA RUTA begins to tell the heinous truth plaguing women in Mexico, the storytelling meanders into a gentler version of reality. Hauntingly beautiful singing led by Laura Crotte (Desamaya) is interspersed throughout the play. The songs put a folklore spin on the tragic actuality.  

Running Time: One hours and thirty-five minutes with no intermission

At Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted

Written by Issac Gomez

Directed by Sandra Marquez

Thru January 27th 

Buy Tickets 

Production Photos by Michael Brosilow

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