Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Also see Susan's review of Full Circle
The 15-year-old heroine Olivia (Laura C. Harris), like the playwright, was born into two worldsher father is Jewish, her mother Cuban-born, and she has much lighter skin than her motherand doesn't feel at home in either one. She lives with her father, Aaron (Michael Frederic), who is remarried to an unseen woman Olivia hates, and rarely hears from her mother, Beatriz (Zabryna Guevara), whose marriage to Manuel (Triney Sandoval) outwardly seems more comfortable. The year is 1986, before cell phones and social networking.
The motion of the drama is external: after a trauma at home, Olivia takes off with her mother on a cross-country road trip, during which they get to know more about each other. The problem is that it's all talk rather than action, and KJ Sanchez has staged it on a set and background projections (designed by Daniel Conway) so stark that most of the conversations might as well take place in Beatriz's house. Without much momentum to the drama, the good parts get swallowed up in sameness and boredom.
Harris succeeds in playing an artless, searching teenager without becoming precious or irritating. Guevara portrays fierce and conflicting emotions without slipping into the caricature of the "hot-tempered Latina." The men have less to do, but Sandoval stands out in the small role of a rapturous tamál vendor in the mountains of South Dakota.
Round House Theatre