Lucia has come to Los Angeles after struggling for years to write her 2nd novel. Now she is working for a TV show, struggling to get her voice heard, and especially frustrated for the show is about a bad ass Latinx detective who her co-workers don’t know how to really develop nor handle. Enter Abel, a maintenance worker who, due to an assumed shared culture, Lucia decides to befriend not just to vent, but because she has no one out in LA.
At first, their relationship is rocky, since Lucia makes a horrible first impression. In fact, Abel says that Lucia is “A Fresa.” A title she rejects but, as we listen to her and get to know her, even if you aren’t familiar with the term (link above goes to an Urban Dictionary definition), you get the gist. Yet, as Lucia goes on and on about her struggles, and Abel acts as a soundboard which often encourages or validates her feelings, their relationship develops. It develops to the point where when she gives him the floor, she asks about his life, we learn that his past and hers couldn’t be more black and white. For while they share the same culture and speak the same language, without those connections, they don’t have much to push them to speak to one another.
But, as we see, perhaps there was a good reason why there was some apprehension from Abel. For with Lucia being a “pull up your bootstraps” and work through the night and on weekends kind of girl, it becomes clear what she is willing to do for success. No matter what she may have to put up with, say, or do in order to get it.
Peeking Into a Cultural Connection
When you are a person of color, naturally you seek out your people whenever in an unfamiliar place. There is this assumed acceptance, some sort of community, you hope will recognize you. In this play, you get to peer into how important that is. For while Lucia and Abel may come from different worlds, a shared culture acts as an extended hand. One which could be the saving grace as you deal with code switching, microaggressions and pure ignorance just because you don’t fit into a cis hetero white male box.
The Different Perceptions
With the rise of diversity has come various perceptions and depictions of what it means to be a person of color. This all is very important for it shows that no culture is a monolith. This is something wonderfully depicted almost from the get go.
Lucia, we learn, often speaks Spanish to people she perceives as those who speak the language. She assumes, when it comes to waiters or those who work in maintenance like Abel, if she tried to speak to them in English, they would reply in broken up words and sentences and struggle, if not embarrass themselves. So, to do them a favor, she goes straight to Spanish to ease the channels of communication.
Abel notes that, being that he comes from a different world, speaking Spanish sometimes isn’t allowed by the employer. So when she speaks to them in Spanish, she puts them in a tough spot with management. On top of that, being that she assumes, nee stereotypes, that those who look Hispanic or Latinx would speak broken English, is insulting. And while that is a minor point of contention, it pretty much lays down the foundation of showing that even if you share a language and culture with someone, your perception of things can be seen very differently depending on the context or situation.
The major conflict which happens between Lucia and Abel, you can predict it long before it happens. I won’t say what it is, but while this play features seldom-heard voices, it is highly reliant on old stories. Leading you to wonder if bringing in different cultures will truly be enough to make these eons old storylines fresh and some semblance of new.
On The Fence
Abel’s Change from Stoic To Emotional
In the beginning, Martinez presents so much indifference toward anything Dow says, you wonder if he is doing this strictly to pay his bills. For while Dow rants and raves about racism and Lucia’s experiences, Martinez just stands there and indifferent replies to acknowledge he is at least hearing her. Yet, as time goes on, you realize he is going through the motions strictly to be polite, perhaps because this girl of a similar culture needs him to be a sounding board. And once you realize that, and Dow steps aside and gives Martinez the floor to speak about Abel’s past, you grow to like and love him. It takes a bit of time to get to that point, where he is an active participant and not like a member of the audience who was awkwardly pulled on stage, but it becomes worth it. For it, ultimately, proves you can’t always take the first ten minutes of anything to judge a whole production. There is a reason something was made a certain time span.
Overall: Negative (Not Worth It)
While I’ll always praise diverse voices which come from cultures which aren’t often featured, there wasn’t anything remarkable about the performances or what was said. What makes this play noteworthy is because it seems rare but just because something is rare doesn’t mean it should be seen as exceptional. Which is why I’m marking this as something not worth it. For plays, there is no video recording. You either go and see it or it is like it never existed. So with this leaving you nothing more than a playbill and a receipt of $50 – $74, it isn’t worth it.