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Review: '8 Ways to Say I Love My Life and Mean It' at LATC

May 14, 2009 |  4:40 pm

Yolie-Cortez-LATC The eight autobiographical monologues in “8 Ways to Say I Love My Life & Mean It,” which played Saturday at the Los Angeles Theater Center, are all written by Latina authors whose stories range in tone from the hilarious to the harrowing.

“Ways,” which has been restaged at the LATC by Diane Rodriguez, is a remounting of a previous production that ran at Casa 0101 in Boyle Heights. The solo vignettes treat diverse subjects, with abuse, neglect and societal strictures emerging as the most reiterative themes.

Although many of the monologues deal specifically with the issue of masculine abuse, the show is far from retributive or bitter. A common thread of forgiveness links the stories and lends a heartening universality to the whole.

Eight winning performers chart their characters’ various journeys to female empowerment with passion, humor and sheer verve. Josefina Lopez (“Real Women Have Curves”), the founding artistic director of Casa 0101, contributes the most hilarious segment, “My Low Self Esteem Days,” a romp about a young woman’s disastrous relationships performed by Yvonne DeLaRosa, a gifted comic actor who perfectly embodies the self-denigrating sexiness of Lopez’s protagonist.

Also particularly worthy of mention are Laura De Anda’s touching account of her father’s struggle with schizophrenia, performed by Yolie Cortez, and Joanna Diaz’s shattering tale, performed by Jacqueline Calderon-Guido, of being separated from her hard-working single mother and shunted into the foster care system. Any time an adult actress plays a child, it’s dicey, but perfectly cast Calderon-Guido avoids any hint of caricature and makes us feel every beat of her character’s confusion and terror.

-- F. Kathleen Foley

Caption: Yolie Cortez