OUR DEAR DEAD DRUG LORD grew out of a 2021 novel of the same name by Alexis Scheer, who went on to write the stage play of the same name. Born and raised in Miami, Florida, into a Jewish-Columbian household, it seems only natural for Scheer to have crafted this story. When asked about her inspiration to write such a funny and frightening tale, Scheer opined, “As our country continues to demonstrate its disdain and desire for control over my body, this play feels more important now than ever…I’m thrilled to…radically center the hearts, guts, and brains of teen girls who are in hilarious and horrifying pursuit of power and catharsis.” OUR DEAR DEAD DRUG LORD premiered off Broadway in 2019, where it was named the New York Times Critics’ Pick. Now the gripping production comes to the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Los Angeles.
The time is 2008 just before the election which would make Barack Obama the President of the U.S. The place is a treehouse in an affluent neighborhood in Miami. A quartet of private school teenaged girls, all with nicknames dictated by consultation with a Ouija Board, is meeting in their abandoned private place for the Dead Leaders Club. The girls have assembled to call the spirit of their ghostly sponsor, the famed cartel leader and narco-terrorist Pablo Escobar. It seems that they originally decided that the honor of sponsor would go to Adolph Hitler – but got into trouble when they wore swastikas to school.
The club is headed up by Club president Pipe (Lilian Rebelo), a non-nonsense kid who demands that the black magic ceremony be scrupulously observed, a teen who longs for rebellion but whose Cuban-American Republican beliefs creep out at inconvenient times. Then there is Kit (Coral Pena), a new club member who must prove her staunch and murderous philosophy – even if it might seem, to quote another member Zoom (Ashley Brooke), “like we’re psychopaths.” Kit and her mother immigrated from a tough life in Columbia, and her father died soon after her birth. Thus, the girls suspect that Kit’s Columbian heritage and her mysterious dead father might lend her the special status of Escobar’s daughter, a standing she finds amusing but must live up to. At 15, Zoom is the youngest in the group, a Jewish teen who lives next door to Pipe and craves the approbation of the older girls. As it turns out, she may also harbor the biggest secret of the crowd. Finally, there is Squeeze (Samantha Miller), a child of Haitian and Puerto Rican background and perhaps the most knowledgeable about Santeria as a way to open supernatural doors. Bell, book, and candle take on a new meaning as the teens forge ahead with animal sacrifice before escalating to even more gruesome pursuits.
OUR DEAR DEAD DRUG LORD mines the humorous and the grisly in equal portions. It may shock and even horrify some audience members – but it will never bore them. Skillfully directed by Lindsay Allbaugh, the production digs down deep as it explores these multifaceted kids who may be growing up too fast as they ride the roller coaster of burgeoning maturity. The talented ensemble cast bring life to the macabre tale. It makes perfect sense for their actions to take place in Miami, a multicultural hub. Francois-Pierre Couture’s tree house is exquisitely detailed, as are Elena Flores’ costumes, Azra King-Abadi’s lighting, and Veronika Vorel’s sound. AUDIENCE ALERT: The show contains violence and deals with highly sensitive topics; it may not be appropriate for children. For an exciting and entertaining evening, grab a ticket and join OUR DEAR DEAD DRUG LORD.
OUR DEAR DEAD DRUG LORD runs through September 17, 2023, with performances at 8 p.m. on Tuesdays through Fridays, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Sundays. The kirk Douglas Theatre is located at 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232. Tickets begin at $30. For information and reservations, call 213-628-2772 or go online.