Wednesday August 23rd 2017


Recommended*** Chicago is a lucky city when it comes to new playwrights and the work they bring to our theaters, large and small. One of my favorite playwrights is Tanya Saracho, who over the years has come from a small company, Teatro Luna and has made it to some of our large stages with her marvelous works, most of which allow her the Latina “voice” that was missing on our stages. She is a writer of note, an actress and has directed, but her goal when getting into the arts was to express the image of what a Latina is without having to preach- to allow theater audiences the opportunity to view the Latina through her eyes, her heart and her soul. She has also taken the liberty to take American,Russian and European works and adapt them to give us the Latino touch, a marvelous move, which allows the intertwining of cultures and makes for wonderful theatrical experience.

Back in 2008, Teatro Luna did a sharp 100 minute play entitled “Jarred” ( A Hoodoo Comedy). I recall this production that spoke to the use of Folk Magic to heal the suffering of a Latina, who found that her boyfriend of many years had a girlfriend. At the time I saw their production, it was not a complete play, but rather a “work in progress”. Well, tonight, at the intimate space of the 16th Street Theater, I bore witness to the evolution of this darling little play, which is now named “Enfrascada( A Hoodoo comedy of Jarring Proportion). The story is still about the “balck Magic” and the spells and curses that many Latina’s still believe in. Our main charactersCarolina ( the adorable Yunuen Pardo), Yesenia ( deftly handled by the very powerful Yadira Correa) and Alicia (Dana Cruz in a knockout performance) are in Wisconsin at an outdoor concert when Alicia calls home to speak with her fiance, Diego, only to have “another woman” answer the phone. And now the fun begins!

Under the careful direction of Keira Fromm, who uses the tiny stage of this theater to full advantage ( on a set by Kurt Sharp) the next 80 minutes ( the show is 100 minutes with no intermission) we watch as Alicia meets with many “healers” all played masterfully by Lorenz Diaz in order to find a hex or formula to make her Diego want her back. Her friends plus Lulu ( a half Gringo-Half Latina, who is great on quotes and “yuppie food”) do all they can to assist Alicia in finding her way. There is much comedy and even though Saracho sprinkles in a bit more Spanish than in her other plays, you will not miss any of the humor or story line. The actresses, all five, are wonderful as they work together in taking us on this journey; visiting the Senoras, who all have different potions, all of them needing a mason jar. There are scenes at a cemetery and in a car as the ladies stalk Diego in order to get in and steal his underwear. These scenes are full of honesty and humor.

The notes tell us that the senoras and mixtures in this play are based on interviews with women who do this for their community and while I am sure there was some dramatic license taken, these are probably closer to the truth than we might want to believe. This marvelous little 50 seats venue allows the audience to get up close and personal with each character in the story. I found myself concerned that Alicia could not bear losing her man despite the reaction from her friends. Yet, her friends, despite being against her desires, stuck with her through it all, showing their loyalty to her, a true testament to the Latina and her heart.

You only have until  May 12th to catch this little gem at The 16th Street Theater located at 6420 West 16th Street in Berwyn. Plenty of parking and affordable tickets $18 ( about the cost of a movie ticket and yet, here you get live theater depicting real life) with performances as follows:

Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m., and Saturdays at 5 and 8 p.m.

The theater only holds about 50 ,even with some added chairs, so my suggestion would be to call 708-795-6704, or stop by the North Berwyn Park District office located at 1619 Wesley Avenue or of course go online to www.16thstreettheater,org


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