Pride despite prejudice

The Indian Wants the Bronx, Security, and A Mother's Love

By Israel Horovitz
Directed by Pamela Seiderman, Michael LoPorto and Francisco Solorzano
Barefoot Theatre Company
78th Street Theatre Lab
Non-union production (closed)
Review by Elias Stimac

As is sadly so often the case, the more things change, the more they stay the same. That was the lesson to be learned from watching this particular program of three plays by Israel Horovitz -- two new short works, Security and A Mother's Love, and a classic from 1968, The Indian Wants the Bronx.

Security gets off to a great start, as co-workers Zelly (Robbie Harbaum) and Webster (O. Supater Columbus) grumble and gossip while wolfing down their sandwiches and sodas. With conversation topics ranging from priests to presidents, Bush to bin Laden, it's obvious that the playwright chose to incorporate all the latest current events. The levity fades, however, as the men strap on their gun holsters and usher in an Arabic mother and her young son. Soon the two men become cold-hearted interrogators, badgering their harmless captives and ultimately pulling a revolver on them. Pamela Seiderman was responsible for the gripping staging, and her cast was excellent. Harbaum and Columbus enjoyed a wonderful rapport before turning vicious, and Tita Tintati and Andre Ansari portrayed the innocent Arabs, maintaining their dignity while faced with fearful accusations. Victoria Malvagno added to the authenticity with her caustic voiceover as the unseen supervisor of the operation.

A Mother's Love continues the theme of the ambiguous fine line between who is perceived as the world's victimizers and who is actually doing the victimizing. As an Arabic couple prepare one son for his mission as a suicide bomber, they remember another heroic son whom they idolize for becoming a martyr in a similar manner. Their faith and conviction that the sons are doing the right thing is enlightening and eye-opening. Surrounding them are three women from the United States who offer alternate views from their own reality. The ensemble worked seamlessly together under Seiderman's controlled direction. They included Gilberto Ron, Anna Corea, and Francisco Solorzano as the Arabic family, and Dedra McCord-Ware, Malvagno, and Tiontati as the three women.

The main event was Horovitz's original exploration of man's inhumanity to his fellow man, The Indian Wants the Bronx. Two streetwise young men (Jay Rivera and Solorzano) encounter a lost traveler from India (Rock Kohli) in the urban jungle of New York. They proceed to humiliate, taunt, and ultimately injure the poor man, who cannot communicate that he needs to get to his son in the Bronx. As directed by Michael LoPorto, the action was forceful and focused, and his three actors delivered solidly in their roles. As with the two pieces before it, in the end the outsider gains the audience's full sympathy, because viewers can see the unwarranted prejudice and hate through the victim's eyes.

Interspersed throughout the evening were several poems staged by Solorzano. Each piece was touching and thoughtful and calmly delivered by cast members, particularly the opening offering.

As for the technical elements, the authentic costume design was by Malvagno and Chiara Montalto; Danny Mordujovich was responsible for the haunting music; and the evocative lighting was the contribution of Eric Nightengale.

This bill of one-acts will next be seen during the summer at Horovitz's own Gloucester Stage Company in Massachusetts.

Box Score:

Writing: 2
Directing: 2
Acting: 2
Sets: 1
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2003 Elias Stimac