Teatro Vivo’s Enfrascada
Tanya Saracho's dark comedy about moving on from heartbreak is staged with humor, honesty, and magic
Reviewed by T. Lynn Mikeska, Fri., Sept. 15, 2017
Heartbreak is an unpredictable companion. It shows up in many forms, some of which are: tearstained pillows, harsh words, harsher silences, drunk dialing, marathon journaling, candle burning, heavy tantruming, The Ugly Cry, sarcastic touchdown dances, and excessive emoji usage. No matter what shape a breakup takes, it's always hard, it always hurts, and it's always humbling.
However, those who suffer the most in loss of love are the folks who hold on, the ones who convince themselves that the breakup is merely a short break and who become more and more desperate in their attempts to rekindle romance lost until eventually they are consumed. In Enfrascada, an all-female cast explores what happens when a woman's life becomes completely about being with a man, even when moving on would better serve her.
Teatro Vivo's latest production tells the story of Alicia (Karina Dominguez), a woman who seeks out folk magic in order to restore her wrecked relationship. As her desperation grows, she, along with her two best friends, Carolina, a domestic goddess (Emily McDougall), and a tomboy-turned-wild-child named Yesenia (Minerva Villa-Rivera), visit señora after señora searching for ever-stronger "bring him back" charms – despite numerous warnings from the spiritualists themselves.
But as Lulu, Alicia's adorably uber-academically-minded cousin (played by Eva McQuade), often quotes, "The only cure for grief is action." And these women take plenty of it – burying bottles of vinegar, buying "bitch-be-gone" spells, even pulling off a panty raid in the name of necromancy. Unfortunately, none of this is helping Alicia move on. With every spell, her friends recognize her less, and she spirals downward until she finds herself trapped in the same web of magic she hoped would bring her beloved back.
The ensemble cast of Enfrascada (directed by Claudia M. Chávez) is solid and features an exquisitely timed comic performance by McQuade as Lulu, as well as some truly magical double turns onstage from JoJanie Segura Moreno and Bárbara Mojica as some mediums with large powers. The text of Tanya Saracho's dark comedy flows seamlessly between English and Spanish, the physical and metaphysical, magical and rational. The show also features smart light and set designs courtesy of Patrick Anthony and Gerardo de la Cruz, respectively.
From beginning to end, Enfrascada is an evening of theatre that explores the difference between what we think we want and what we actually need, and depicts the struggle between those two realities with humor, honesty, magic, and, of course, heartbreak.
EnfrascadaEmma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, 600 River St.
Through Sept. 24
Running time: 2 hr., 10 min.