High-rise havocIrene Hsiaoon September 22, 2022 at 3:49 pm

On the rooftop of a high-rise, one of many in the forest of silhouettes that comprises our city’s skyline, a professor (Dan Hanrahan) and an automotive engineer (Juanjo López) have been locked out for six days, surviving on trickles of water sluiced out of the bottom of a trash can and bread crumbs that appear mysteriously in the night. A red moon has wreaked an undefined havoc, and the mayor has warned everyone to avoid exposure to its light, which is, of course, impossible on the unprotected rooftop. No one can hear the engineer’s frantic knocks on the stairwell door. No one seems to be in the city at all, until about halfway through, a domestic worker (Claudia Urbano) and (later still) a window washer (Ever Monroe) appear on the scene.

Las MigasThrough 10/2: Fri-Sat 8 PM, Sun 6 PM, Chess Live Theater, 3622 S. Morgan, clata.org, $25

The entire drama of Las Migas, cowritten and codirected by Raúl Dorantes and Emily Masó for Colectivo El Pozo and presented as part of the Chicago Latino Theater Alliance’s Destinos Chicago International Theater Festival, hinges upon the opening of the locked door. The characters trapped on the stage develop no relationship; their vacant conversations and the futility of their actions is reminiscent of Waiting for Godot. But here, the question is less of the spirit, more of the circumstances (“In my country, everyone is an engineer or a lawyer, but here we clean windows,” notes the window washer)—the entrapment and paralysis, the stale crunch of the crumbs when they appear, comments on the life and livelihoods of immigrants at the mercy of others’ whims and meager generosities. 

Throughout, a visceral rankness is front and center: they urinate and defecate, the engineer scratches incessantly at his sides and scrotum, the professor retches with vertigo. The appearance of the secondary characters at first promises a shift in dynamics or at least a distraction but ultimately disappoints when no change really registers. It’s just more people—the level of hope remains constant. When it’s time to be released, there is no reason for it—likely no relief, either. 

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