Review: 'Our Dear Dead Drug Lord' a Bold Production

by Joe Siegel

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday June 16, 2022

Ayrin Ramirez, Marina Tejada, Sofia DaSilva, Ari Kassabian in Burbage Theatre Company's production of 'Our Dear Dead Drug Lord'
Ayrin Ramirez, Marina Tejada, Sofia DaSilva, Ari Kassabian in Burbage Theatre Company's production of 'Our Dear Dead Drug Lord'  (Source:Courtesy of Burbage Theatre Company)

"Our Dear Dead Drug Lord" is sort of a cross between comedy/drama and gothic horror as it explores the cult of celebrity and the impact it can have on the lives of the young and vulnerable.

Burbage Theatre Company's choice to finish their season with this production shows a lot of artistic courage. This is a bold and uncompromising play which may leave many audience members deeply shaken at the end.

Four teenage girls gather in a treehouse and share a mutual admiration for the notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar. Pipe (Sofia DaSilva) is the outspoken president of the "Dead Leaders Club."

Pipe and her friends, Zoom (Ari Kassabian), Kit (Ayrin Ramirez), and Squeeze (Marina Tejada), have devoted much of their free time studying historical figures such as Saddam Hussein, Joseph Stalin, and Adolf Hitler.

(Source: Courtesy of Burbage Theatre Company)

Because the story is set in 2008, the girls engage in a spirited debate about the presidential election and Barack Obama. Pipe gets some criticism for supporting John McCain, and is dubbed a "Cuban Republican." She accuses school administrators of trying to "bleach" history, an astute observation considering many conservative politicians today are attempting to do that by making sure that certain books are not being read by children.

The girls have all suffered personal tragedies. Squeeze's father committed suicide. Kit reveals she used to cut herself. Pipe's younger brother died from drowning. Zoom, who is Jewish, becomes pregnant but insists she's still a virgin. The girls smoke, use drugs, and spout profanity quite often. They also engage in the occult by pulling out a Ouija board and conducting a séance.

Playwright Alexis Scheer used her own experiences growing up in Miami as inspiration for "Our Dear Dead Drug Lord."

(Source: Courtesy of Burbage Theatre Company)

Trevor Elliott and Andrew Iacovelli's striking set design and Thomas Edwards' atmospheric lighting help create an unsettling mood., while co-directors Catia and Madison Cook-Hines stage the action effectively and draw strong performances from the all female cast. DaSilva is a revelation as the deeply troubled Pipe, who is wracked with guilt and self-loathing. As Zoom, Kassabian does a magnificent job bringing the character's vulnerability and anger to the surface. Ramirez and Tejada bring depth and believability to their roles.

It's refreshing to see these young women express opinions on politics, sexuality, relationships, and their own emotions in such a provocative way. "Our Dear Dead Drug Lord" is not a show for the squeamish; toward the end of the play, there is a series of events which are extremely disturbing. I won't provide spoilers, except to say the women are motivated to commit unspeakable acts, and the play's climax is a natural result of everything that has gone on before, but be warned: This is gritty and haunting material, and some audience members might be repulsed and outraged by what is shown.

Due to the high quality of the performances and the exquisite technical work from the production crew, I am giving "Our Dear Dead Drug Lord" a mild recommendation. It's a dynamic showcase for four actresses who display their heart and souls for the world.


"Our Dear Dead Drug Lord" runs through June 26. Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test are required. Face coverings are also required. Burbage Theatre Company. 59 Blackstone Avenue. Pawtucket, RI. For tickets, call 401-484-0355 or visit burbagetheatre.org .

Joe Siegel has written for a number of other GLBT publications, including In newsweekly and Options.