By: Isa Goldberg
Set in “Trump’s America”, Tanya Saracho’s new play, FADE, produced by Primary Stages at the Cherry Lane Theatre, is a soulful, engrossing two-person drama. Portraying the newcomer on a staff of television writers in LA, Lucia (Annie Dow) befriends the only person who will give her the time of day. That’s Abel (Edie Martinez), a janitor who wears his tough edge with noticeable tattoos. A Mexican American worker, Abel sticks to himself, until he gets swept up in Lucia’s overtures of friendship.
Insisting that as Latinos they share a commonality, Lucia lures Abel with stories of the racism and sexism that dominate in the room of white male television writers. It seems odd, somehow, that Lucia, who was born and raised in Mexico, looks and talks more like a Gringo than the LA born Abel. In spite of her complaints, she is the mirror image of a young successful American woman. And so the die is cast.
As a playwright, Saracho has an easy honest feel for dialogue. In this story about race, gender, class and how they collide, her message is forthright and unambiguous. Truthfully, for a fair share of this 90-minute production, one might imagine that FADE is an all too obvious tale. That it is not, is a credit, both to the efficacy of the narrative and the adeptness of the actors. Similarly, director Jerry Ruiz brings the inherent conflict to the fore, accentuating the hypocrisy that prevails and pervades in the work place, and among the people who exist in it.
That Mariana Sanchez’s design of the office space transforms from borderline dingy to openly magnificent brings a nifty reveal. But overall, this small stage production is unpretentious. Mostly, it’s a really a feat for these two engaging actors, who pull off a simple tale with exceptional finesse.
Primary Stages at the Cherry Lane Theatre
38 Commerce Street in the West Village
Running Time: One hour and 30 minutes, no intermission
Photos: James Leynse