Primary Stages has made it a point to bring interesting writers to the New York stage, and Tanya Saracho is certainly an interesting writer. She cut her teeth in Chicago, where she co-founded Teatro Luna. Since then, her plays have been produced to acclaim in many regional companies.
. . .an interesting pas de deux. . .
But her “Fade,” now on view at the Cherry Lane Theatre, is clearly the product of her experiences as a TV writer for such shows as “Devious Maids,” “Girls,” and “How to Get Away with Murder.”
A two-character piece, “Fade” begins on Mexican-born Lucia’s first day at work in a film studio. A writer with one failed novel under her belt, she is at a loss as to why she was hired, what she’s expected to bring to the table of a crime show, or even how to arrange her office. When her wall shelf collapses, she calls on the floor janitor for help.
Enter Abel (Eddie Martinez), a U.S. born Mexican, who instantly pegs Lucia (Annie Dow) as a Latina climber in TV land, much to her dismay. Lucia sees working-class Abel as her only possible ally in this Gringo corporate wasteland. So, will he or nil he, she sets out to bond with him.
Thus begins an interesting pas de deux between two individuals of the same race, but in diametrically opposed positions. Their exchanges have a rapid-fire staccato reminiscent of Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant in “His Gal Friday.” But this is not banter; it’s the cry of two people who are, in different ways, out of their depths.
Director Jerry Ruiz has worked with Ms. Saracho before and he shows a sure hand here. Two-character plays aren’t easy, but Mr. Ruiz knows exactly how to keep things roiling. But his staging doesn’t succeed in disguising the predictability of the plot.
It’s no surprise to the audience when Lucia’s growing ambition prompts her to make use of Abel’s painful past for her own TV drama ends. What was surprising, to me at least, is how badly the Lucia character comes off here. Despite her initial daffiness, she’s a self-deluded user. While the Abel character grows in his sad awareness of a friendship betrayed.
Both Annie Dow and Eddie Martinez give fine performances here. Yet, Mr. Martinez comes off the best by far, which again, isn’t surprising. After all, the deck—and the play—are stacked in his favor.
Running Time: One hour and 30 minutes, no intermission.
“Fade” is currently running through March 5, 2017 at the Cherry Lane Theatre in New York, NY. For more information and tickets, click here.