A NoHo Arts theater review of Loft Ensemble’s production of “Concrete Jungle (A Chicano Horror Story)”, written by Travyz Santos Gatz, co-directed by Mitch Rosander and Ignacio Navarro through April 23.
This new piece, “Concrete Jungle”, produced by the Loft set is loosely based on “In the Jungle of Cities” by Bertolt Brecht. The drama revolves around the rivalry of the two main characters, Jorge Garcia and a repaired local man, and a successful businessman named Slink. After Jorge gets fired from his job due to Slink’s negligence, he swears revenge, buys a gun, and tries to shoot Slink. Slink, always opportunistic, trades his factory for his life. But Jorge doesn’t know that the company has already been sold, nor does he understand how this sudden flood of responsibilities can change him.
It’s a chess match, basically, with Jorge’s sister catching Slink’s eye and their aunt Maria favoring him over his own nephew who has always looked after them both. However, with Jorge away, they happily fall into Slink’s arms, as does Jorge’s girlfriend. The sister and girlfriend are persuaded to sell each other for money, and when Jorge finally returns from brooding, his whole world comes crashing down.
The play is told as a series of scenes punctuated by poetic monologues and in the Brechtian style of theatre, with the prose mostly told directly to the audience, which is an interesting way of permanently breaking the 4th wall.
So audiences are always aware of the absurdity of the story, no matter how faithfully rooted in social commentary. How money always passes from hand to hand, sometimes stolen, sometimes given, sometimes exchanged for a life. Money is meaningless, unless of course you don’t.
The Loft Theater is a wonderful theater space, so it lends itself to this kind of performance. The music is also a major player in the production and sets every scene perfectly. The performances of the actors are excellent, interesting, thought-provoking and thoughtful. Although to be fair, this Brechtian style is almost comedic in its intentional delivery – brutal, sadistic, cruel. So there is a kind of desperation in the action, there is always something wrong, an absence of real emotion, which is really very well represented.
If you like your theater with a sense of the macabre, the desolate and the sadistic, then “Concrete Jungle” is for you!
It only lasts until April 23. The Loft Ensemble offers to “give what you want” for this show, you just have to RSVP on their website. We are lucky!! So support your local NoHo Arts District theater!!
Lemon Baardsen, Macedonia Bullington, Berenice Diaz, Kathleen Guevara, Sydney Jenkins, Jordan Klomp, Matt Lorenzo and Alejandro Mungaray
Run April 23, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.; Sunday at 7 p.m.
11031 Camarillo St, North Hollywood, 91602