2.5 stars out of 4
Fade is a topical new play about identity, race, and class. There are just two characters, Lucia and Abel, and they verbally spar their way through a fraught friendship. A co-production with Teatro Vista, the play puts Latinx voices front and center, and Latinx artists are in charge at every level of the production. The play’s strengths lie in its exploration of these perspectives, but a few other elements undercut its potential impact.
Lucia is a Mexican-born, Chicago-based writer working a stint for a Hollywood T.V. series (a conceit born from playwright Tanya Saracho’s real life experience). The other white, male staff treat her poorly and she hates the job—at first. She meets her office custodian Abel, and manages to offend him within minutes by speaking to him in Spanish, assuming they are “in it together” as Latinos. He immediately susses out their class differences—she clearly comes from more money than he—and makes fun of her assumption that race trumps class. Thus begins their contentious relationship that leads to many scenes ending with one party mad and walking out on at the other.
Lucia (played by Sari Sanchez) is hard to like: she’s self-centered, rambles loudly, and acts neurotically, and tells anecdotes that make her seem clueless. Her foil Abel (a stoic Eddie Martinez), is somewhat more relatable once his ice melts and he begins be friendly with Lucia, but he’s often gruff and seems intent on calling Lucia’s bluff. The dialogue between them often feels staged to present the thematic issues at hand, sounding forced and awkward in the process. Static staging from director Sandra Marquez means this dialogue-heavy show could have been a radio play instead of a visual art form. However, smart costuming from Christine Pascual show time passing elegantly.
Lucia’s career gets a major boost when she steals Abel’s personal story and ends up becoming the very type of person she once railed against: soulless and ruthless. Almost as soon as the revelation is made and the fight is had, we cut to the future, the consequences left unexplored but implied: the friendship is over, and class privilege has prevailed. This was a story was worth telling….but the production isn’t likely to stick out in your memory too far into the future.
Fade runs through December 23 at Victory Gardens (2433 N. Lincoln Ave). Call 773-871-3000 or visit www.victorygardens.org for tickets and more information.