COVID captured more than virus-infected victims during the past two years. COVID also caused shifts in perspective and goals, shifts which no one expected and which no one was ready for. This was a huge sea change happening in every corner of the world – and exemplified in award-winning playwright Boni B. Alvarez’s microcosm: one apartment building in an urban center. With keen perception, Alvarez contrasts the time of isolation that is the pandemic with the shared lives, the shared walls, and the shared experiences of six people enclosed in an apartment bubble. Director Jon Lawrence Rivera stated that he is “truly delighted to continue working with one of the nation’s most prominent Filipino American playwrights…(his) unique perspective on human relationships is especially heightened through the lens of the first six months of this pandemic.”
Hospital worker Easter (Gigette Reyes) shares her space with her son Dixon (Andrew Russel) who, unbeknownst to mom, is also sharing some steamy moments with Alex (Gabriel Leyva). Meanwhile, Alex lives in the next apartment with his fiancé Cassandra (Charrell Mack); but the path of true love doesn’t seem to be going smoothly as unemployed Alex may be leaning to heavily on an overburdened girlfriend who seems more comfortable sharing her concerns with buddy Mayisha (Geri-Nikole Love) and a complete stranger she meets in a grocery store (White Lady/Rachel Sorsa) than her lover. It soon becomes apparent that this group’s connection is far closer than seven degrees.
But their stories fade into postscripts as the star of the evening emerges: COVID, that miniscule virus which has impacted everyone’s lives for over two years. For this is really the story of a nearly invisible protagonist which changes all the lives it touches – from cautious and careful Easter, who ends up in the ICU, to Alex and Cassandra, whose bond is in jeopardy, and even to random contacts like the White Lady planning her evening meal at the grocers.
Skillfully helmed by Jon Lawrence Rivera, APARTMENT LIVING has the added bonus of a talented cast who bring life to the tale. Special kudos to Charrell Mack, who personifies the conflict faced in a relationship on a crash course with something that can’t be ignored, controlled, or stopped. Congratulations are also in order for Alex Calle’s scenic design, whose fluid walls make scene changes adroit and speedy. The entire production team deserves a nod, including lighting design by Azra King-Abadi, costume design by Mylette Nora, sound design by John Zalewski, and projection design by David Murakami.
APARTMENT LIVING runs through April 24, 2022, with performances at 8:30 p.m. on Saturdays, 3 p.m. on Sundays, and 7:30 p.m. on Mondays. The Skylight Theatre is located at 1816 ½ North Vermont, Los Angeles, CA 90027. Tickets start at $20 with discounts for seniors, under 30s, students, and those with Season Flex Packages. For information and reservations, call 213-761-7061 or go online.