Theatre Review

Trinity's 'Fade' raises profound issues

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This has been “The Year of the Woman” in the Rhode Island theatre scene.

Playwright Tanya Saracho gives us an interesting look at a Latina woman as she maneuvers her way from Mexico to the dog-eat-dog world of the Los Angeles TV scene.

Lucia (Elia Saldana) is the “Diversity Hire” at a white male dominated firm, where her primary function is to translate her boss’s instructions to his Spanish-speaking maid.

Frustrated by the inattention paid to her in the writer’s conference room, she vents to Abel, the Mexican-American custodian (Daniel Duque-Estrada).

 Lucia and Abel come from two completely different backgrounds, but slowly, and with some humorous dialogue, form a bond, as she looks to him for inspiration in her writing.

Lucia intermittingly speaks Spanish, English and profanity as she tells Abel about her time in the writers’ room, where an inept male writer frustrates her. Abel slowly opens up about his difficult life, revealing secrets of his past to her.

When Lucia uses those secrets for her gain, conflict raises its ugly head, and the play takes a serious turn.

While this is a play about Latinos (or Latinas/or Hispanics), the characters could have been any minority that is pigeonholed and stereotyped.

It is also a play about relationships and assimilation.

Saracho is a brilliant writer. Why she has to make Lucia so foul-mouthed is my only criticism.

Saldana and Duque-Estrada play off each other perfectly, with Lucia the dominating character until she crosses the line and the relatively quiet Abel responds.

Culture clash, ambition, and greed know no boundaries, as the one-act play rises in intensity to a jarring conclusion that shows that life isn’t always “A Christmas Carol” or “It's a Wonderful Life."

“Fade” is at Trinity Rep’s downstairs Dowling Theatre through Jan. 5. Call 351-4242 for reservations.

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