Imagine a world where children that society deems valueless were actually chosen to be the precious salt of the earth. Where homeless youth were really pirates who had the power to hear and transport inner thoughts. Where immigrant children who the government would rather throw in cages had Hulk-like superhuman strength. This alternative world is the setting of “The Real-Life Adventures of Jimmy de las Rosas,” ambitiously and exceptionally created for youth of color in the intimate Free Street Theater space by playwright Ricardo Gamboa.
“The Real Life Adventures of Jimmy de las Rosas” follows the life of newly turned thirteen-year-old Jimmy (Ulises Acosta), and his two friends Ayana (Ashley Bland) and Eddie (Kyle Johnson), as they search for his missing mother Lety (Elizabeth Nungaray), with the help of family friend Juani (Mia Arevalo). The entire cast (Ruth Guerra as Abuela, P. Tyler Neilson, Steven Beaudion, Isaura Flores, Dagoberto Soto and Roy Gonzalez) make for a fast-paced, energetic adventure.
Director Ana Velazquez has taken on a herculean task of translating high-octane action to the stage, but does so in a way that is lively and entertaining, yet hits you at the heart when things turn reflective.
I would label what Gamboa wrote an empowerment adventure. He tackles the most pressing issues of our time without being heavy-handed while creating a space for youth of color to not only imagine themselves as something different but strive to be it as well. It’s definitely a story that not only the youth of color in Chicago need, but the whole world. “Black Lightning” and “Black Panther” make room, “The Real-Life of Adventures of Jimmy de las Rosas is coming to town. (Loy Webb).
Free Street Theater, 1419 West Blackhawk, third floor, (773)772-7248, freestreet.org, Free or pay-what-you-can. Through November 17.