Lela & Co. | Steep Theatre | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader
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click to enlarge Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel and Chris Chmelik

Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel and Chris Chmelik

Gregg Gilman

When: Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through Aug. 19 2017
Price: $35 (industry night $15)
The title of this 2015 drama, a bitter pill from British newcomer Cordelia Lynn, refers to the covert business name of a brothel inside an unspecified war zone. Lela (Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel), who is 15 during the play and whom Lynn has based on a real person, was trapped there for over a year as an imprisoned child prostitute by her rapacious husband (Chris Chmelik). Gonzalez-Cadel has the presence and raw energy to pull off this grueling performance, which is nearly an evening-length monologue. Chmelik, who appears in passing as a host of brutal men from Lela’s earlier life in addition to the husband, is at his magnificent best as a kind but conflicted soldier who befriends Lela but shies away from helping her. Less of a story than a call to action and though impossible to love, Lela isn’t easily forgotten. —Max Maller
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