There are some things so fundamental, they really don’t involve choice For instance, you don’t choose to breathe, do you?
|Malik Ali, Alejandro Rodriguez, and Sean Carvajal in “Ghetto Babylon” at 59E59 Theaters.
Photo by Lisa Silberman
Worried about disappointing his “boys,” — the thuggish Spec (Sean Caravjal) and the tender Felix (Malik Ali)– Charles Rosa (Alejandro Rodriguez) is in a fourteen-year-old’s quandry. In “Ghetto Babylon,” at 59E59 Theaters through August 18th, Charlie Baseball is the star pitcher on the West Farms Warriors. The team, after many seasons, seems finally destined to win the Bronx championship. And Charlie, if he stays the course, is likely to get them there.
It’s not everyone’s dream to get out, even when the getting is out of poverty and ignorance. Spec, for instance, expects to have Rikers in his future. “I keep havin’ this dream,” he tells Charlie. “It be ten years from now. Felix be Felix, he all right, and we still tight. He like a captain at one of those fancy restaurants…. I be out from another bullshit bid upstate, Rikers, whatever….”
|Alejandro Rodriguez and Talia Marrero in “Ghetto Babylon” at 59E59 Theaters. Photo by Lisa Silberman|
Charlie is a reader. His downstairs neighbor, Sarafina Santo (Talia Marrero) calls him Honor Rolls. For Charlie’s cousin Felix, wearing the jacket the Warriors would win is a ticket to being recognized when they get to Theodore Roosevelt High School in the fall. Charlie has his own, very different ticket out, but it means ditching the final game for the Bronx-wide win.
Alejandro Rodriguez acquits himself fairly well as the narrative figure in “Ghetto Babylon.”
He is adequately supported by his castmates, especially the alluring Talia Marrero as Sarafina.
Michael Mejias has written a memory play with an extremely porous dilemma. His language alternately fascinating and downright uninspired. Mejias likes to sprinkle expressions such as “Anywho,” in use by Sarafina and Spec. Or, “the wide wide world,” which is used repeatedly as if it were an incantation. Mixing the mystical, the mythical and the magical by ijnvoking Charlie’s dead mom, a hot love interest in Sarafina, and bringing in the Catcher from “Catcher in the Rye” just unfocuses “Ghetto Babylon.” There is also some unfortunate ghetto stereo-typing in “Ghetto Babylon” that probably shouldn’t get a pass.
For more information about “Ghetto Babylon,” please visit 59e59.org.