Raw, sensual, brilliant, and beautifully acted, Lydia, written by Octavio Solis and directed by Juliette Carrillo appears at the Mark Taper Forum.
Taking place in the 1970's in El Paso, Texas, the story weaves around a Mexican American family, the Flores, trying to better themselves. In the process, they hire a maid fresh from Mexico since the mother, Rosa ( Catalina Maynard) has decided to return to work.
Lydia ( Stephanie Beaetriz) is at first resented by the youngest son Miguel( Carlo Alban), or Misha as he is called because he feels that his sister Ceci ( Onahoua Rodridguez) injured in a car crash, will not be properly taken care of by anyone but family. Lydia soon wins over the family including Rene ( Tony Sancho), the eldest son, and the father, Claudio ( Daniel Zacapa) in surprising ways.
The family is irritated at Alvaro, their cousin, for joining the border patrol, but he feels that it is his duty.
A crisis occurs when Lydia, sensing what Ceci wants, dresses her in her gown that had been made for her coming out party, the quinceanera that never happened.
When the secret comes out of how Ceci was really injured and that Alvaro (Max Arcinega) was driving with Rene, the family dysfunction comes to the forefront.
Nevertheless, the ending will leave you a bit shocked and disturbed.
At times, the play faded because of the heavy reliance on the Spanish phrases and terms but other visual enhancements served to make it clear what was being said.
There was only silence in the theatre for a moment before the lights went back on.
The acting of Onahoua Rodriquez, going back and forth from a normal girl with normal desires to a crippled girl, mentally locked in her own world was inspiring and very convincing.
Part of the success of the play is due to the subdued lighting when Ceci comes to life and the rest of the world fades into shadows. Christopher Akerlind is to thank for that. The costumes by Christal Weatherly added to the authenticity as did the sets and memories of S and H stamps and other artifacts done by Christopher Acebo. Wigs and hair were done by Carol F. Doran and the fights were choreographed by Rick Sordelet and Greg Derelian. In order to have the real flavor of the Mexican family, Natsuko Ohama, coached in voice and dialect. Michelle Blair managed the stage and associate producer was Neel Keller. Original music was provided by Chris Webb.
Tickets range from $20 to $65 and can be had at 213 628 2772 or on line at
www.CenterTheatreGroup.org. A friend actually came at the last minute and was able to buy a $65 ticket for $20, so those on a budget might want to consider last minute tickets.
The play runs every night except Monday through May 17, 2009. Sunday performances are at 1 pm and 6:30 pm, Saturdays at 2:30 pm and other days at 8 pm.