by Mark G. Auerbach
TheaterWorks is showcasing another young playwright on-the-rise with a production of Tanya Saracho’s Fade, a smart, sometimes sad, yet always funny play about a Mexican novelist, who gets a job in Hollywood writing for a TV series. Lucia, played by Elizabeth Ramos, realizes she’s the token Latina on an all-white writing team, there to punctuate and authenticate a Hispanic character on a series. The TV world overwhelms her. She finds companionship and inspiration for her writer’s block with a Latino janitor, Abel, played by Eddie Martinez, an ex-Marine with a backstory of his own.
Fade parallels playwright Tanya Saracho’s history on several levels. In less than a decade, the Mexican-born Saracho’s presence has skyrocketed from doing small plays in Chicago’s theatre scene to larger theatres nationwide. The playwright moved to Los Angeles, where as a TV writer, her work has been seen on Devious Maids, Looking, and Shonda Rimes current hit How to Get Away With Murder.
Saracho’s characters are well-drawn, and Fade is a series of short scenes, punctuated with crisp dialogue, snippets of Spanish, and a healthy dose of F-Bombs. Some of it is very funny, some is poignant, and overall, this is a solid work much in part due to Jerry Ruiz’s wise staging.
New York’s Primary Stages presented Fade earlier this season in New York, with much of the creative team reassembled for the TheaterWorks production. The show initially premiered in Denver. Eddie Martinez, who has been with Fade from the beginning, is superb, and Elizabeth Ramos, who joins Fade in Hartford is outstanding. Mariana Sanchez’s set design, an office suite, really makes creative use of the small TheaterWorks stage. Harry Nadal’s costumes and Amith Chandrashake’s lighting fit Fade well, and M.L.Dogg’s Latin-infused sound is great.
Fade represents a point of view that many of us have not experienced, and I am grateful to TheaterWorks for providing the opportunity to give me the chance to see talented Hispanic creatives and actors, present a take on something familiar, yet different, in an entertaining light.
Speaking of playwrights on the rise, TheaterWorks will present the world premiere of Hartford playwright Jacques Lamarre’s Raging Skillet next month. Mary Testa, the two-time Tony Award nominee stars as Chef Rossi, chef, writer, radio host.and world famous caterer. Lamarre has written I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti, which has been produced nationally since its TheaterWorks premiere; a playlet for TheaterWorks’ Christmas on The Rocks, and shows, films and videos for Varla Jean Merman.
TheaterWorks presents Fade. by Tanya Saracho, Directed by Jerry Ruiz. Scenic design by Mariana Sanchez. Costume design by Harry Nadal. Lighting design by:Amith Chandrashaker. Sound Design by M. L. Dogg. Cast: Elizabeth Ramos and Eddie Martinez. Through June 30. TheaterWorks, 233 Pearl Street, Hartford, CT. For tickets: 860-527-7838 or www.theaterworkshartford.org
Mark G. Auerbach studied theatre at American University and the Yale School of Drama. He’s worked for arts organizations and reported on theatre for newspapers and radio.