Juan C. Sanchez's Property Line, which had its world premier last night for New Theatre at the Roxy Performing Arts Center, is a funny, briskly structured, and character-driven tale of loss, culture clash, and possession set in Miami.
Sanchez, who is a New World School of the Arts grad, and a Carbonell Nominee for Best New Work in 2008 for Red Tide, was commissioned by New Theatre to pen Property Line. And if there's a trend in his work, it's that Sanchez knows how to craft richly drawn characters with wit and wisdom.
Mag (Barbara Sloan) and her husband Charlie (Bill Schwartz) are WASPy empty nesters living in a quaint Miami community. She's a liberal-minded human rights advocate, he's a pot-smoking retired travel writer and avid cyclist. The two seem content in life until, one day, their recently widowed Cuban next-door neighbor Blanca (Evelyn Perez) becomes suddenly belligerent, claiming that a part of Mag and Charlie's fence that divides the two homes is within her property and is, therefore, legally hers.
Blanca, who lost her husband in a tragic and gruesome car accident that saw him get decapitated, is left to raise their teenage son Danny (Javier Cabrera) -- who was a witness to the accident -- by herself. Shortly before his death, her husband discovered the property line mistake, and made it his mission to get it rectified.
With charm, humor, and tense-filled moments, Sanchez deftly uses this synopsis as a commentary on fear, loss, change and, ultimately, the conflict of culture and perceptions that permeates South Florida.
The play is seen mostly through Charlie and Mag's perspective, and there's a genuine chemistry between Ms. Sloan and Mr. Schwartz. They're an amiable, likable pair, and Sloan, who is a New Theatre regular, absolutely shines as Mag in what is probably her best New Theatre performance.
Property Line, which runs approximately two hours with a ten-minute intermission, breezes between scene changes and musical intervals that vary from Jimmy Buffett, to jazz instrumentals, to Eminem. And the characters' sharp comedic banter and taut emotional outbursts keeps what would normally be a tiresome plot interesting and fun. It's a strong play that delves into familiar territory for those of us who live in not-always-as-sunny-as-it-appears Miami.
Look for our extended review in this week's iss
New Theatre's Property Line runs through April 8 at the Roxy Performing Arts Center (1645 SW 107 Ave.). Tickets are $40. Call 305-443-5909 or visit new-theatre.org.