This one woman show at the New York International Fringe Festival is the stuff we live for here at The Happiest Medium; as managing director Karen Tortora-Lee will tell you, our mission is to highlight, showcase and celebrate our favorite medium, and that is exactly what writer/performer Leila Arias does in Omarys Concepcion Lopez Perez Goes To Israel (to Speak to God at the Wailing Wall). It takes a certain kind of performer to pull off a solo-show, and Ms. Arias has the spunk, chops and enthusiasm to transport us to Jerusalem, the Bronx and Puerto Rico in a 40 minute journey.
Her main character, Omarys, is a Persian/Puerto Rican in search of enlightenment and spiritual answers ever since she was a young girl; always getting different messages from God, yet never really knowing if he is listening to her pleas. On her 27th birthday, her father bestows her with the gift of a lifetime – a trip to Jerusalem that will bring her closer to her Creator (or at least she thinks it will). Once at the Wailing Wall, Ms. Arias introduces us to her Persian mother (who gives her tips on how to protect herself from the evil eye and aging), an Israeli/Jamaican guard (who wants to show her a good time), her adonis-dominican-turned-out-to-be-a-lazy-couch-potato fiancee, and a Jewish Spiritual Teacher. All characters are brought to life with Ms. Arias’ great physical and vocal work.
For someone who has been searching for answers all her life, her conversations with God at the wall are a bit exasperated, as she recounts different moments in her life when “the signs” she once thought came from a higher power, turned out sour and mundane.
She was raised Catholic, but in her search for answers, has been open to everything regarding Spirit that comes along her way. You can tell by the different trinkets around her neck, be it a crucifix, an evil eye charm, or a Tree of Life chain. Not to be mistaken with a religious pamphlet piece – Ms. Arias is not trying to convert you to Catholicism, Judaism, Buddhism or convince you to be a non-believer. This is a universal interpretation of the most important message of all: the answer to all our questions lies within.
Filled with colloquial flavors, music, dance and traditions that feed not only the humor in the story, but the humanity of the piece, this is a must see swift experience at the Fringe.