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Contra Fiction: 'Devil's Advocate' at LATC

Robert Beltran and Tom Fitzpatrick in 'Devil's Advocate. Photo by Ed Krieger.
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On the heels of Manuel Noriega's extradition to France to serve a seven year prison sentence, Latino Theater Company presents a theatrical account based on true events of his 1989 surrender to the United States in Devil's Advocate. The show features intense performances, calculated direction, and politically-charged script on a foreboding set.

Robert Beltran leads the Devil's Advocate cast of two as General Noriega. His performance is strikingly dramatic, affecting, and full of suspense. As he portrays Noriega's submission and declining sanity, Beltran renders a powerful characterization of fear-aggression and subtle frailty that is at once both larger-than-life and completely believable. Beltran has amazing stamina and energy for the constant emotional demands of this role. Playing the sanctuary-offering Archbishop, Tom Fitzpatrick's character is steeped with symbolic meaning. He counters Noriega's verbal rages with an unusual matrix of passive-aggressive and sinister sensibilities. Fitzpatrick finishes the play with a a well-executed guttural surprise ending that puts an unexpectedly dark spin on "the meek shall inherit the earth."

Direction by Jose Luis Valenuela is a sharp and calculating presentation of restless momentum. Donald Freed's script feels natural and completely avoids the flowery and awkward melodramatic pitfalls of monologue-heavy plays, although the script occassionally sounds like an NPR fundraiser rant. Scenic design by Tesshi Nakagawa is a rich yet graceful that folds the play into a metaphorical belly-of-the-beast.

Devil's Advocate is playing through April 24, 2011 at Los Angeles Theatre Center located at 514 S. Spring Street, Los Angeles CA 90013. Tickets are available online through LATC or via phone at 866-811-4111.