Javier Mejia was brought to America when still a baby, by his mother who was fleeing the atrocities of war. Now he belongs to the marginalized “Dreamers.” Raised as a law-abiding American and contributing member of society, he is caught between the raging politics that refuses to validate him as a bona fide citizen, or deport him as an illegal alien. A policy defined as “deferred action.” Society benefits from his presence, but he is denied the privileges any other valuable American could take for granted. When Javier accidentally finds himself perceived by the Latino community as a symbol, a figurehead for this grievance and cause, he is faced with a crucial decision. Though it may not necessarily be the one we’re expecting, he is overcome by the leverage he wields.
Other key characters include Javier’s grandmother (Abuela) fiancee (Ximena) and best friend (Robby). Also, Dale Jenkins, the perfect embodiment of the Texas politician: big on charm and long on harm. Deferred Action is a surprisingly subtle blend of humanity and skepticism. The shifting loyalties of political advocacy and manipulation of community, solely for the sake of personal advancement. Though there is clearly more affection for some characters than others, it seems no one is immune from temptation or backpedaling. The end comes so abruptly (though not gratuitously) it takes a few minutes to regain our bearings.
Written by Lee Trull and David Lonzano, Deferred Action is a collaboration between Dallas Theater Center and Cara Mia Theatre Company. Though I have learned to be leery of such endeavors, it is a seamless piece of deeply moving, yet appropriately detached theatre and social commentary. The emotional moments are never excessive and the satire never quite crosses the line into cynicism. It eloquently articulates the predicament of a group being exploited and played in the cause of political expediency. It’s intelligent, funny, angry and pointed, but gratefully never feels didactic.
I regret that this review was posted so ridiculously late. My abject apologies.
Deferred Action played April 20th-May 16th, 2016, in ATTPAC’s Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre. 2400 Flora Street @ Leonard Street, Dallas, Texas. 214-880-0202