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Theater Review: Richard Montoya and Culture Clash’s ‘Palestine, New Mexico’ at the Mark Taper Forum

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by Sasha Mann, special to LAist

As you might have read, we are stepping out to hear Wagner’s Ring Cycle reprised at the LA Opera House sometime during its run this spring, because it’s easy for non-actors and non-drama majors (known also as regular people) to forget where the Hollywood green screen got its start. Which is also why we attended the new play from Culture Clash, ‘Palestine, New Mexico’ by famed Latino playwright Richard Montoya and directed by Lisa Peterson.

During its brief eighty-minute runtime, audiences experience the somewhat erratic but sweetly entertaining story of Captain Catherine Siler (Kirsten Potter) who has traveled to an American Indian reservation in New Mexico seeking to unravel a mystery surrounding one of her soldiers, Ray Birdsong. Depressed, dehydrated, and addicted to pills, this Anglo army woman is not welcome on the res, but is determined to speak to the chief and to deliver a letter written by Ray - the chief’s son - who died under her command in Afghanistan.