Nowhere on the Border Review – Humanity put to the Test

Natalie Llerena and Jonathan Nichols in NOWHERE ON THE BORDER - Photo by Brian M. Cole
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Playwright Carlos Lacamara has taken a political and timely question and given it new meaning. Across California (and the U.S., for that matter), discussions – and controversies – about immigration abound. NOWHERE ON THE BORDER gives these abstract issues a human face. A face marked by hope, despair, pain, and small victories. A face which must be reckoned with by the American population at this point in time.

Natalie Llerena and Leandro Cano – Photo by Brian M. Cole

Gary (Chet Grissom) has taken on the task of protecting the American border by volunteering as a civilian border patrol officer, a role which he considers his patriotic duty while his son fights in Afghanistan. As he crosses the dry forbidding wasteland separating the U.S. and Mexico, he encounters Roberto (Jonathan Nichols). Roberto claims to be looking for his daughter Pilar (Natalie Llerena), lost somewhere in the vast hostile space between poverty and dreams as she desperately tries to locate her husband, somewhere North of the border, whom she hasn’t seen for three years. Despite barriers of time and distance, she intends to reunite with him with the help of costly coyotes Don Rey (Thom Rivera) and Montoya (Diana Delacruz). But even with the help of strapping Jesus (Leandro Cano), a fellow North-bound traveler, the journey is arduous and dangerous. And just might prove fatal.

Leandro Cano and Diana DeLaCruz – Photo by Brian M. Cole

Director Steward J. Zully does an excellent job of helming this poignant and sometimes brutal production as the talented cast fights obstacles, both physical and psychological. As two fathers face off, each with his own painful story, their children also face difficulties which may prove insurmountable. Gary’s military son lives with gunfire and possible death every day, while Roberto’s daughter must rise above the physical and psychological limits to her strength and resilience. With compassion and intensity, NOWHERE ON THE BORDER explores each individual’s hurdles and the obstructions blocking their dreams. All the while, Mackenzie Redvers Bryce strums his mournful guitar with prophetic chords which almost weep in shared pain.

Chet Grissom and Jonathan Nichols – Photo by Brian M. Cole

Paul Defresne’s set design artfully evokes the loneliness and barrenness of the desert, while Derrick McDaniel’s lighting, David B. Marling’s sound, and Mary Jane Miller’s costumes bridge the themes of starry dreams and hard reality. Projection designer Nicholas Santiago cleverly brings an element of mysticism and unreality to the tale. Let’s not forget Bjorn Johnson’s fight direction in a play which offers opportunities for considerable physicality. Overall, the production team has functioned powerfully in presenting a fictional story that may be happening in reality too often in these days of immigration strife.

Guitarist Mackenzie Redvers Bryce – Photo by Brian M. Cole

NOWHERE ON THE BORDER is timely and thought-provoking in an era where political realities may often clash with humanitarian concerns. The talented cast successfully tell the story while treading the fine line between melodrama and reality, kindness and anger, dreams and the mystical.


NOWHERE ON THE BORDER runs through March 8, 2020, with performances at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. The Road on Magnolia is located at 10747 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, CA. Tickets are $34 (students/Seniors $15). For information and reservations, call 818-761-8838 or go online.


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