Our Dear Dead Drug Lord

Carmen Berkeley, Alyssa May Gold, Malika Samuel and Rebecca Jimenez star in WP Theater & Second Stage Theater's Our Dear Dead Drug Lord. Original photo by Jeremy Daniel.
Is this a supernatural thriller or a superficial fiasco?

By Andrew Andrews

Our Dear Dead Drug Lord is the story of The Dead Leaders Club, a group of four girls in Miami attending a private high school. The club, originally formed in the 1960’s to study the life of JFK, was suspended in 2008 after announcing a decision to focus on more controversial leaders: specifically, Pablo Escobar.

The hodge-podge of girls meet on the first Tuesday of every month in the club leader’s tree house—not to study Escobar, but to attempt to make contact with him from beyond the grave. Hoping that Escobar’s spirit will help resolve deep personal problems that each member faces, their pain points leave them arguing with each other one minute and supporting each other the next.

This is a great story that begins with just the right balance of interpersonal conflict and laugh-out-loud humor, adding more and more of both nearly to the end. The plot grows increasingly dark and disturbing at just the right pace, full of both strange coincidences and unexpected moments, building up to the bloody suspense of a Hitchcock thriller.

The well-cast actors do a great job portraying their characters, and the lighting and sound design far exceed the quality I expect from a production at this price, with the handsome set depicting what might just be the biggest tree house in all of North America.

The dialogue is almost exclusively in English until the climax, when it switches to mostly Spanish; this leaves those in the audience who don’t speak the language a bit in-the-dark about what’s going on, just when you most want to be in-the-know. At the end of the performance, you’re referred to a link for the translation, but visiting a web site after a show to fill in the blanks is about as much fun as having someone explain a joke to you after everyone’s finished laughing. Si comprende español then you’ll probably give this production an extra star, but I’m compelled to deduct a point for this shortcoming, which could have been avoided by projecting subtitles when we needed them most.

4

Andrew Andrews attended Our Dear Dead Drug Lord at McGinn/Cazale Theater WP Theater in New York on Friday, September 20, 2019 @ 8:00pm to write this review.

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