by Quiara Alegria Hudes
When guests gather for breakfast each morning, we never know what they will bring to the table beside themselves. Sure, we may know where they’re from and perhaps what play they saw last night, but it’s rare that we, or their fellow guests, know what life experiences lay buried within them. It’s only through conversations – some short, some long – about one play or another, that more is revealed. Connections are made, concerns expressed until finally, a new sense of community emerges.
Pulitzer prizewinner Hudes explores this phenomenon via the unlikely vehicle of a chat room for recovering crack addicts. In the beginning – and the end – the only thing these disparate folks have in common is the enemy of addiction. An aging bureaucrat, a mom, a recent community college graduate, an entrepreneur who’s done well but is doing badly right now – all facing the same threat, united by the same thread.
As we watch their interconnectedness unfold, we begin to see the damage that’s been wrought by the war each has waged, or been a part of waging. The skeletons come out of their closets and sit down with them and us on a regular basis. The pain of their presence has inspired the playwright to remind us that we all sit at the same human table and eat the bread that’s life. She taps us on the shoulder again and again to remind us of our capacity to be present to each other and to ourselves. Her characters are people we probably know but don’t really know because we overlooked the opportunity to connect with them.
This is a powerhouse of a play. Do not miss it. Vilma Silva (haikumom), Daniel Jose Molina (Elliot Ortiz), Bruce Young (Chutes&Ladders) and Celeste Den (Orangutan) turn in superbly sensitive and nuanced performances. They don’t barge in your front door and insist on being heard – they just keep revealing their innermost selves to such a degree that they take up residence in your soul.