Kimberly Gómez & Guadelis Del Carmen in La Egoista. Photo: Yunier Ramirez.

La Egoista 

By Erlina Ortiz  
Directed by Amelia Acosta Powell  

A review by Keith Waits

Entire contents are copyright © 2023 by Keith Waits, All rights reserved.

Sisters in conflict; one is devout in her faith, the other a mocking agnostic. La Egoista opens with a lengthy stand-up routine by Josefina (Kimberly Gómez), a rising young comedian based in Pittsburgh. Reflecting the contemporary approach to stand-up, she is frank and profane about sex and her family.

Her routine is interrupted by a text from her sister, Betsaida (Guadalis Del Carmen) reporting she has been hospitalized, and Josephina catches the next plane to Los Angeles. Like their recently deceased mother, Betsaida is a devoted Jehovah’s Witness, easily offended by her sister.

There is little plot except for Betsaida moving in and out of the hospital as her condition worsens, but playwright Erlina Ortiz uses the situation as an incubator, examining the relationship of the two women on both personal and symbolic levels. She treads lightly with the polemics and concentrates more on the emotional dynamic as we watch Josefina discover a reservoir of love and compassion for her sister by caring for her.

It is mildly provocative to depict the rebellious iconoclast as the nurturer, yet Kimberly Gómez’ Josefina is so vital and full of life that it seems entirely natural. It’s a terrific, dominant performance, and if there is a true debate between faith and agnosticism here Josefina wins it on points both in the writing and in the work of this actor.

The contrast in the two women is well illustrated in Guadalis Del Carmen’s performance. It falls to her to play both the stern disapproval of conservative religion and the terrible breakdown of the body from disease, making it the less flashy role of the two, but Del Carmen’s work is confidently grounded in those realities, and she pulls Gómez into that ground with her.

The play is also about women’s bodies, and Latinx women in particular, beginning with Josefina’s comedy about her booty and how she worked her whole life to achieve her curves. This affirmation of positive body images is her superpower and she feeds it to her sister as healing strength. Merged with the religious and spiritual conflict and you arrive at the heart of what makes Ortiz’ play unique.

Director Amelia Acosta Powell shapes the performances more successfully than the pace, which feels sluggish around the middle, but the production is enlivened by the use of imaginative puppets arriving within dreams and delusions (designed by Isaac Fosl-van Wyke). Mostly items of food, including a very funny hot dog, they serve as voices for the parts of the sisters’ personalities that are not in communication. These scenes are often hilarious but also moving.

The design work is good, with a bare stage adorned with microphone stands so Josefina can launch into comic mode at any moment, and various other set pieces wheeled on and off as required, and lighting and sound by Christina Barrigan and Paul Doyle, respectively.

But the stage belongs to Guadelis Del Carmen and Kimberly Gómez, and they hold it with assuredness and heart.

La Egoista is the winner of the 2022 National Latine Playwrights AwardLa Egoista was commissioned and developed by Live & In Color, and received a reading at the 2022 Latinx Theatre Commons (LTC) Comedy Carnaval. 

La Egoista 

February 8-19, 2023

Open Caption Performances – English and Spanish available: Sunday, February 12 @ 2 pm Thursday, &February 16 @ 7 pm

Live in the Bingham Theater.

Actors Theatre of Louisville
315 West Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202

Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art during the days, including being the host of Artists Talk with LVA on WXOX 97.1 FM /, but spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music and visual arts. His work has appeared in LEO Weekly, Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is now Managing Editor for