Playwright Benjamin Benne’s tale of family and sacrifice is set during a toxic period in America when anti-immigrant rhetoric and the demonization of ethnic people is at an all time high, thanks to the new President. The story follows illegal-immigrant working mom, Alma (Cheryl Umaña, This Land, In Love and Warcraft), who has single handedly raised her daughter, Angel (Sabrina Fest, Les Mis, Guys and Dolls) on tough love, home-cooked meals, and lots of prayers. Alma is a woman of faith and fortitude who has devoted herself to ensuring that her daughter will realize all the promises of the American Dream. Her future and security hinge on Angel’s fidelity to their shared “wish list.”
Sadly, Angel, seventeen and born in the US, bears a rebellious and entitled nature, and sees things differently. Things come to a head when one evening she’s out partying with her friends instead of preparing for the SAT. This lapse of discipline and direction fuels an argument about priorities and expectations, how she fails to grasp that there is more at stake than just test scores. It’s a realistic portrayal of not just generational tensions, but how mean-spirited politics and bigotry can impact our most significant relationships.
Cheryl Umaña embodies Alma with conviction and commands the stage. Her passionate and heartbreaking performance as a terrified mother faced with the possibility of having her dreams shattered is riveting. As her daughter, Angel, Sabrina Fest shows tremendous range of emotion, especially during her “panic attack” scene. The Kirk Douglas Theater should be commended for offering such a vital platform to different versions of “American experience.”
— Victor Riobo
Alma runs through April 3rd at the Kirk Douglas Theater in Culver City. Tickets HERE.