Sometimes it happens; there's a moment when watching a play so dramatic in its telling, so harrowing in its content, you suddenly realize you can no longer describe what you're witnessing as having entertainment value. That doesn't lessen its importance. If done convincingly well, advising others to go see what you've just seen becomes compulsory. LA RUTA by writer Isaac Gomez is such a play. The importance of its subject needs to be seen and the story it tells needs to be known.
To its credit, the play never illustrates the atrocities. On the slide projection that effectively creates backdrops to either the desert or the local city streets, there are no close-ups of bodies found. Everything is told through the perspectives of six women, (Amanda Lopez-Castillo, Alexandra "Sandy" Leon, and Tiffany Valenzuela round out a well-cast, emotionally supercharged production) living a life of pain and fear; the pain of not knowing what happened to loved ones and the fear that this nightmare will never end.
LA RUTA is the third [sic - SECOND] play in Stray Cat Theatre's 2022-2023 season where all acting and producing credits are BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) productions. It's an admirable opportunity for Valley audiences to see plays produced on a forum with such authentic voices. But, depending on how far you can overlook writer Gomez's occasional muddy construct and instead concentrate and embrace the full, torturous shock of its subject, LA RUTA should affect you in ways 'neither the two previous productions' [sic - THE PREVIOUS PRODUCTION] in Stray Cat's season could ever achieve.
Don't be surprised if, during the final ten to fifteen minutes of the play when many of the real horrors and injustices are revealed through the gut-wrenching breakdowns of Yolanda and Marisela, you break into tears. It happened to several audience members during this past weekend's Sunday matinee which yours truly attended. It will happen when you go.