Jacqueline Guillén, Triney Sandoval, Tyler Alvarez and Bobby Moreno
Photo by Jeremy Daniel
Hilary Bettis’s 72 Miles to Go…, at the Roundabout Theatre Company’s Laura Pels Theatre, is a prolific play with heart and soul. In a era where the “Dream Act”, The wall and immigration lay heavy on America’s conscious, this play simplistically goes through the struggles and the heartache of and family who is entrapped in this everyday nightmare.
Billy (a brilliant Triney Sandoval), is a preacher and a father of children and a step child who faces this problem everyday. His wife Anita (Maria Elena Ramirez) was deported and now has to spend the next 10 years in Mexico before she can reapply. She came here with her son Christian (a terrific Bobby Moreno) illegally and Billy found them in the desert of Tucson, Arizona. As he nursed them back to life, he fell in love.
Christian wanted to be a marine and when he went to apply was when he found out he was completely illegal. He harbors anger and resentment as his status keeps him feeling like a caged animal. He doesn’t even speak Spanish. He acts out by drinking and driving fast, which scares his siblings teenage Eva ( the remarkable Jacqueline Guillén) and Aaron (an impressive Tyler Alvarez). Eva is finishing her senior year of high school and Aaron is just starting as a freshman. The family lives for the phone calls from their mother, who has promised to be there for Eva’s graduation.
Their mother is just Just 72 miles away, but it is more like a world away, forcing this family to live in different two worlds at the same time, never really feeling apart of either. Billy has been left to support the family and be both mother and father. Eva has taken on the raising of Aaron, missing out on a lot of her childhood. We follow their lives from 2008-2016. They live in fear of no paychecks, no food and ICE deportation Christian.
As Billy makes meals with mayonnaise and trys to cheer them up with bad puns, he misses his wife, who he spends tender moments on the phone with. As Christian marries and has a child, Eva grows up to have her dreams replaced with helping out her family and Aaron joins the marine’s the family slowly separates even further.
Ms. Guillén’s performance is so layered and complexed, that she becomes the face of this tragedy.
The set design by Rachel Hauck and lighting design by Lap Chi Chu keep us in the worlds, that tell this families story. The years and months that send us through time are projected, so we can feel the passages.
Jo Bonney’s direction allows the words, actors and moments to become organic. We feel every moment of this family and in the end have a better understanding of the problems at hand. The simplicity of family and the delicate balance these men, women and children face is enormous. Somewhere there is a answer to this dilemma.
I look forward to seeing more of Hilary Bettis’s work. This prolific playwright gets to the heart of the matter and 72 Miles to Go… is must see theatre.
72 Miles to Go…: Roundabout Theatre Company at the Laura Pels Theatre