Boca Stage presents compelling, mind-examining drama, ‘Time Alone’

Boca Stage kicks open the 2023 segment of its current season with one of its best performances – if not the best – an intense, mind-probing examination of two people trapped in solitary confinement – one by choice, the other by circumstance – and whose lives become increasingly difficult to bear. As they spiral toward a loss of self-existence, a totally unexpected event brings a measure of solace and newfound relief to their painful realities.

Time Alone, by Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and film producer Alessandro Camon, is a psychologically gripping, soul-wrenching story of two people forced by tragic circumstances to endure the horrible emptiness of solitude. The two-actor, 90-minute show runs through Jan. 22 at Boca Stage’s home venue, the Sol Theatre.

This production, which won a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award when it premiered in L.A., is making its East Coast debut, said director Genie Croft. She located two actors who more than capably perform the lead roles in this unique two-hander that depends on appropriate scenery, lighting, sound and performance prowess to succeed. The Boca Stage troupe hits the mark in each category.

Camon crafts a poignant and hard-hitting examination of two ostensibly unconnected people: a widow, Anna Jackson (Karen Stephens), enraged by the shooting death of her police officer son in the line of duty and Gabriel Wayland, (Rio Chavarro), a young man serving a 50-year to life sentence for the revenge killing of a gang rival.

“This play provides these stellar actors a canvas upon which to paint a powerful and brilliant picture of two people’s inner emotional and psychological landscapes,” said Croft. “Stephens and Chavarro dig deep to bring out the universal commonalities that all humans share, and you’ll be left stunned by their conclusions.”

The script is the product of the writer’s volunteer work in the California juvenile and justice systems. At the same time, the actors jump into this theatrical fray with an uncanny ability to deliver lines passionately, emotionally and with such apparent personal understanding that the show seems more like a slice of two actual lives than a recitation of someone else’s words. 

Karen Stephens in Time Alone at Boca Stage. (Photo by Amy Pasquantonio)

As the play unfolds, the audience sees a gray, stone-like solitary confinement cell, chilling in its apparent realism, on one side of the stage; the kitchen of a modest suburban home on the other. Both locations reek of loneliness, and when the lights illuminate each section, the sad denizens of each speak.

Without missing a beat, Gabriel recites the story of his sorry life, about growing up in a violent neighborhood where seeing dead bodies was common. He tells how he got his nickname, “40 bucks.” When he was born, his parents wanted to abort him, but were $40 short. “So, they kept me.”

Uncomfortable, yet apparently accustomed to his incarceration spot, he talks about his brother who “killed a cop” during a gas station robbery. The sibling was convicted and given a death sentence. Grimly, sickeningly, Gabriel – a young man who “never even went to Chuck E. Cheese” – recounts the process of lethal injection, telling how the drug insertion lines failed and caused his brother to die in agony.

The lights switch to the kitchen where Anne begins telling of a life that transformed from normal to nightmare. Her husband, a police officer, passed away, but her son, who followed in his dad’s footsteps, was killed while on duty. “I got a call saying my son was dead,” she laments, rage welling up. “Death moved into my house,” she cries. And she yells again: “Death! This is my house!”

Rio Chavarro in Time Alone at Boca Stage. (Photo by Amy Pasquantonio)

The play toggles back and forth as each sad character tells their story. And as time passes slowly and grudgingly, their tales alternately contrast and mirror each other, providing answers to each other’s questions – until they find a commonality neither expected – or anticipated.

What happens next is grist for the in-house audience – too much for us to reveal. We might merely add that as the play reaches a conclusion, the scattering of puzzle pieces converges to become a new and viable whole. At which point, Gabriel says, simply: “I’ve been called something today that I was never called before: forgiven.”

Stephens and Chavarro carry the show with help from crew members: Ardean Landhuis, set and lights; Cindi Blank Taylor, scenic design; David Hart, sound and Alberto Arroyo, costumes.

Karen Stephens in Time Alone at Boca Stage. (Photo by Amy Pasquantonio)

Rio Chavarro in Time Alone at Boca Stage. (Photo by Amy Pasquantonio)

Returning to Boca Stage after have last appeared in Having Our Say, Stephens performed in Dorothy’s Dictionary at Theatre Lab, Matilda at Slow Burn Theater (which earned her a Carbonell nomination) and Armature at Island City Stage. She is a multiple Carbonell nominee and was awarded the Best Actress award for Zoetic Stage’s Fear Up Harsh.

A Miami native, born to an exiled Cuban mother and a runaway Indigenous Colombian merchant marine father, Chavarro is a classically trained performer who studied in conservatories in New York and Miami. He has spent more than 20 years perfecting his craft as an actor, writer, director/producer, singer, clown, mime and comedian. He was last seen with Zoetic Stage as Pablo Escobar in Our Dear Dead Drug Lord.

Time Alone runs through Jan. 22 at the Sol Theatre, 3333 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton. Tickets are $45, and $50 for Sunday matinees. Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening show are at 8, Saturday and Sunday matinees are at 2. For reservations, visit or call 561-447-8829.

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