The Many Issues of “A Cat Named Mercy” at Casa 0101

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By Bel Hernandez

Playwright and Casa 0101 Artistic Director Josefina Lopez has a way with infusing all her work with passion.  Whether it’s a stage production, a film or a book, you will find her heart and soul poured into it. A Cat Named Mercy her latest stage production, which closes its  run at Casa 0101 this weekend on Sunday, February 23rd, is no exception.

Written by Lopez with a grant by the California Endowment, the dark comedy revolves around Catalina Rodriguez (played by Alex Ximenez ), a Latina Licensed Vocational Nurse who works at the Elysian Estates Nursing Home, who just can’t catch a break.

Not only does Catalina work at a nursing home where she is not appreciated for her dedication and her gentle way with the patients, she is also the sole caregiver to her blind mother who has diabetes.  Catalina struggles with not having enough money to buy her mother’s medication.  But that’s not all, her hours are cut to part time at the nursing home causing her to lose her health insurance, while almost simultaneously finding out she needs to have an operation, which costs $50,000, within two weeks or she will die.  About this time she adopts a stray cat she names Mercy, which becomes her solace and to whom she pours out all her anguish and despair.

But wait, there is more.  It gets worse.  Catalina is asked by one of her patients to help her end her life. The patient offers her $30,000 and begs her to do it and use the money for the operation she knows Catalina needs.  Catalina caves in (only too quickly) and ultimately complies, and does not stop with one patient.  Its no wonder she ends up in jail.

Catalina’s fate strays far from the initial topic of health care, and the consequences of not having medial insurance, it readily goes off into other issues like euthanasia, racism, the treatment of senior in nursing homes, diabetes, and ultimately ending in criminal acts.  So much drama, it’s was hard to keep up.

In spite of it all, the actors all turned in some good performances.  However,  it made it difficult to keep up and really connect with anyone of the characters.  With so many issues  introduced, there really was  enough material to make this play into a trilogy .

A Cat Named Mercy which closes on Sunday, February 23rd was produced by Emmanuel Deleage ; Directed by Hector Rodriguez with Mary Mendoza Co-directing; and Benjamin Pohlmeier was Assistant Producer; .  Of note was the set design credited to Marco de Leon.

Free Parking is available on several streets surrounding the theatre.  Free Parking is also available on Fridays and Saturdays only at the Boyle Heights City Hall Parking Lot located at 2130 East First Street (at Chicago Street) by entering the lot from Chicago Street; the lot is closed on Sundays. For tickets, please call the Casa 0101 Theater Box Office at323-263-7684, E-mail tickets@casa0101.org, or buy online atwww.casa0101.org.  Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/casa0101theater.