“Elevada” at Shotgun Players

“Elevada” at Shotgun Players

The small Shotgun Players across the street from the Ashby Bart Station in Berkeley keeps pouring out noteworthy works.  “Elevada” is their latest and it is a sad, poignant yet very funny play by Sheila Callaghan that touches many levels of contemporary single on line dating life.

Ramona (Sango Tajima) is on a first date arranged on line with Khahil (Wes Gabrillo).  They are having drinks and getting to know each other.  Khahil is an awkward computer geek who has a complicated app that he is in the process of selling to large company.  She is a sweet young thing who listens to everything he says even if she has to ask him to explain again.  When he says he’s a an “on-line agitator” she asks “what?”

Khahil is based on a real character Kenyatta Cheese who was activating against Citizens United that deemed corporations as people with all the rights of citizens in a concept called “corporate personhood”.  His software is hot; he’s on he phone all the time trying to negotiate a deal.

Ramona, and this is no secret as it is much part of the plot, has cancer and is dying as her wig and the port she hides with a scarf testify.  The date is on false premises because Khahil thought he was meeting a marketing person.

The next scene, one of many that are seamlessly designed by the talented Mikiko Uesugi,  is at her apartment that she shares with her sister June (Karen Offereins) who is very comically about a foot and more taller than the petit Ramona.  June is in charge of taking care of her along with being a high-end real estate agent in a hot Manhattan market.  With a few pieces of furniture brought out and wonderful projections by Erin Gilley we move from restaurant, apartments, Rockefeller Center ice rink, dog park, airport waiting area, backyard Bar-B-Que and more.  

The minute Khalil tells his roommate Owen (Soren Santos), the ex drug addict current alcoholic, about Ramona and her cancer, Owen is brutally honest advising him to run as fast as he can.  But Khahil has an honorable inner core that becomes a problem later on when Ramona finds out a certain test result.  The lives of singles in The City is complicated by her disease, yet  rather than being a downer, there is much humor as well as empathy in this excellent play.

Why is it called “Elevada”?  This is a term for tango dancing when the movements seem to take the dancers up, over the rough pavement where they originally performed on the streets in Buenos Aires.  A colorful ensemble of tango dancers enliven the story at the end.  

Within all this action playwright Sheila Callaghan has created a complicated plot with much feeling.  She is the same author who brought the quirky hit “Women Laughing Alone With Salad” to Shotgun a few years ago. Susannah Martin’s direction is perfect for “Elevada”, a fast moving, complicated play.

Costumes by Alice Ruiz,  sound by Matt Stines, lighting by Cassie Barnes, prop design by Devon LaBelle all make this a very fine professional production.  The tango element of the plot is heightened by choreographer Natalie Greene and consultants Jonas Aquino and Xiaomin Jiang.  Artistic Director and founder of Shotgun Players Patrick Dooley is back from his sabbatical and announced the next season that is filled with intriguing works.

shotgunplayers.org or 510 841 6500.

About the Author

Carol BenetCarol Benet received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Berkeley, where she won an Outstanding Teaching Award. She also received a B.A. in English and an M.A. in French Language and Literature from the University of Michigan. Her teaching assignments have been at UC Berkeley, UC Berkeley Extension, Dominican University and Washington State University. Currently she holds literature discussion groups in Marin County and San Francisco and is a critic of the arts for The Ark Newspaper and a contributor to ARTSSF.com and ForAllEvents.com.View all posts by Carol Benet →