Tale of recovery conveys wide range of intense emotions


Xavier Johnson / The Advocate

Yaz, played by Melissa Velasquez, and Elliot, played by Diego Loza, throw the ashes of their deceased mother into a waterfall during a scene in “Water by the Spoonful” in the Knox Center on Thursday.

By Gabriel Quiroz, News Editor

Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome is a major issue that plagues veterans and can sometimes lead to addiction and problems for which many don’t seek help.
“Water by The Spoonful,” directed by Angelina LaBarre, captures these mental health issues with a unique perspective that gives audiences a glimpse inside the mind and the internet.
The play centers around a veteran soldier who serves in Iraq and comes back with severe PTSD and a bad leg injury, which heavily plagues his daily life.
The play also showcases a group of ex-crack cocaine addicts who populate a chat room and talk about their addictions with sarcastic and comical retorts.
They help each other during times of weakness, when they want to use.
Each serves as support for one another as most of them have lost family ties during their hardest times.
The play bounces back and forth between the two scenarios, sometimes blending together to form a flurry of different emotions that keep viewers struggling with what to focus on in hopes of not missing a moment.
Propped upon stacks of pixel-like cubes, the group of addicts entertains with a witty back and forth dialogue using the tone of a group of friends who have known each other for many years.
They express themselves with intense emotion, losing viewers in their stories.
Their candid openness leaves audience members wanting to know more about their individual lives as the play goes on.
Chat room member CHUTES& LADDERS, played by Umi Grant, showcases a tremendous range of emotion with witty comment delivery, including anger and biting humor.
The most powerful moment is during a chat with fellow ex-addict ORANGUTAN, played by Anne Yumi Kobori.
She shares a very strong connection that carries much of the humor in the play, whether it be self-deprecating or against other members of the chat.
Kobori and Grant had a back and forth that grew more and more realistic as the play went on. Their dialogue often left attendees with a cliffhanger as scenes would end.
Not to be outdone by ORANGUTAN and CHUTES&LADDERS, HAIKUMOM, played by Silvia Sobal, serves as moderator to the chat room.
Appearing motherly and kind, but carrying a stern attitude toward the rest of the group, she gives the group a familial feel.
She is around to tame the group when things get out of hand or when other members get too serious with their personal attacks.
HAIKUMOM’s range is diverse and captivating.
In the chat room she is a motherly figure who helps others cope with her kind words
However, offline she is much more in need of help herself.
Rounding out the group of addicts and most recent to join in the chat group, is FOUNTAINHEAD, played by Heriberto Barber Lopez.
Although not as lively as the other members of the chat, Lopez finishes strong in his last scene by showing that there is a softer side to his character.
Combat veteran Elliot Ortiz, played by Diego Loza, deals with numerous conflicts in the play — not only physically but mentally. He suffers far more than most of the characters and often sees a ghost due to his PTSD.
Ortiz’s denial eats away at him and he receives little help from his family. He is brought closer to one of his cousins, Yazmin Ortiz, played by Meli Valesquez.
Loza and Valesquez lack the energy of their fellow cast mates, but have redeeming scenes with other members of the performance.
Joshua Saephan fills many shoes acting out four roles in the play. He plays Professor Aman, a florist, a policeman and the ghost that haunts Ortiz.
The play is captivating and, although it runs almost two hours, it leaves viewers wanting more. It continues at the Knox Center Friday,