Five characters looking for meaning in their lives and the world get what's coming to them in the Southwest's placid suburbs and unforgiving desert in "Big Cactus."
By JOSHUA TANZER
Don't call Darlene a stockbroker; she's an emerging-markets mutual-fund account manager. Don't call Bob a stockbroker's husband; he's . . . well, whatever he is, he's not a yuppie like his wife. Once, these two were kindred spirits. Now, they have impatient conversations like this:
Bob: You don't drive a Lexus to a Merle Haggard show in Bakersfield!
|Written by: David T. King.|
Directed by: Victoria Pero.
Cast: Anthony DiMaria, Irene Glezos, Nick Gomez, Fred Burrell, Mark Hofmaier.
Darlene: Why is that, Bob?
Fearing that domestic life in Southern California is sapping his vitality, the firebrand spirit that he and his wife shared in their college days, Bob (Anthony DiMaria) leaps at a hare-brained idea that his Mexican-American buddy Edgar (Nick Gomez) has for digging up valuable cacti in the desert to sell to rich Angelenos with gardens. The hundreds of thousands of dollars that Edgar claims they can make on this job will be used to help the poor peasants of Chiapas, which appeals to Bob's good intentions if not his good sense. So over the protests of Darlene (Irene Glezos), Bob sets off into the desert to hunt the wild cactus.
During this adventure, Bob and Edgar run into a mysterious stranger (Mark Hofmaier) who's been on the run in the desert for some time. And meanwhile, left by herself with just an elderly neighbor (Fred Burrell) for company, Darlene reconsiders whether she still loves her husband, or, you get the feeling, even herself.|
The overtly political elements of this well-written play are moderately successful, but it's actually this personal, reflective part of the show that works best. From all different perspectives, all the characters are struggling over what their lives are all about whether they've lost direction in their lives personally, professionally and politically, and whether there's still time to do anything differently. Unexpectedly, it's a secondary character, the old widower, Jim, who seems to have the clearest vision of what life is about after having led his own life full of contradictions.
|OCTOBER 1, 2000|
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