Lost Souls. Troubled Times. Dignity Prevails.


By Bonnie Priever

Sharif Nasr (Charlie) and Jessica Diz (Chickie) in “In Arabia.”

Sharif Nasr (Charlie) and Jessica Diz (Chickie) in “In Arabia.”

As downtown L.A. faces gentrification and image “clean-up,” Alive Theatre brings to stage “In Arabia,” an assortment of down-and-out characters in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC, 1990’s, desperately trying to survive and maintain dreams, fearing displacement from the bar they call ‘home.’
One musical number sets the tone: “Ain’t No Heart in the City, Ain’t No Love in the Town.”
Amidst the coldness of Giuliani’s renovation, gentle human interactions result. One endearing scene has Chickie (Jessica Diz), a crack head prostitute, putting her needs aside, and teaching life lessons to teen mom Demaris (Bri Price).
The philosophic Greer, a gay drifter, is superbly played by Kenneth McClain, no stranger to Long Beach theater. Greer’s lament sums up the play: “You’re young, you take stuff in; you reach an age of wisdom, come to terms and don’t need a party every night…”
Director Jeremy Aluma added music between acts to give impact and “keep the production alive.” Playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis (Judas Icarius) commended the cast on opening night. Guirgis himself had stories struggling to come out and be portrayed on stage. “It’s a surreal honor to see these amazing people doing my work! In a renovated warehouse, they put together a show… the result is phenomenal!”

“In Arabia” plays now through September 12 on Friday and Saturday evenings at 8pm at the Old Expo Furniture Warehouse (4321 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach, CA). For more information, e-mail alivetheatre@gmail.com or call (562) 508-1788.

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