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Hotel Angulo 

The tragic lives in a Mission dive

Wednesday, May 2 2001
In his world premiere presented by Campo Santo, Luis Saguar opens the door of the Mission District's Hotel Angulo and allows us to witness its denizens' broken lives. Tina (Wilma Bonet) just made bail, while her guy, Gene (Rhonnie Washington), makes good money as the resident dealer; big boss Chanclas (Joe Lopez) keeps them in line. Bros Mike (Saguar) and Bennie (Donald Lucy) itch for their next fix, as does outsider Pilot (Michael Torres), who also enjoys wearing women's underwear. They're all at rock bottom when the play begins and at rock bottom when the play ends. What transpires in between is a dizzying dance from Gene's room -- where they shoot up and smoke and shoot up some more and smoke some more -- to the streets, where they tell stories of being in jail or committing petty thievery to pay for their next fix, or complain about the lack of decent work in the factories. Then it's back to Gene's room. Saguar may not have created likable characters, but they are incredibly intelligent about their situation -- and tragically overpowered by their addiction. Upon fleeing from Chanclas and leaving Tina behind, Gene recognizes that his "affair" with dope supersedes everything else -- a predicament that Washington conveys with poignancy. Tina (compellingly played by Bonet) counts out dope bags -- one to get her kids back, one for "justice," and one so she can stop dealing -- in a desperate scene that uncovers both her delusions and her realization of them. Only BB (Paul Santiago) has escaped this life: He remains on the periphery, hauntingly commenting on the others' lives ("We licked our language all over our body") accompanied by Lopez's strong guitar. Saguar's writing falters a bit with Mike's wife, Carol (Catherine Castellanos): She rattles off the usual platitudes of someone leaving an addict (for example, she tells him to go before "your poison becomes my poison"). While Hotel Angulo tells us nothing new about addiction, it remains a rich tapestry of inner stories and thoroughly entwined in its neighborhood.

About The Author

Karen McKevitt


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