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Electricidad
UNM Department of Theatre and Dance

Also see Sarah's review of Eurydice

Electricidad
Carly Moses and Katie Farmin
March, it would seem, is the month of adaptations in the University of New Mexico's Department of Theatre and Dance. Following the opening weekend of Eurydice, a re-imagined version of the ancient Greek myth, is Electricidad, a re-telling of Sophocles' tragedy Electra. The show is running in tandem with Eurydice, and both have been produced in collaboration with the student organization SCRAP Productions, which has chosen this semester "to pay homage to the history of Greek Theatre and highlight the work of contemporary, working playwrights," according to a press release.

Directed by UNM undergraduate Rachel Leos and written by Luis Alfaro, Electricidad transforms the classic play into a contemporary piece about the cycle of violence and vengeance in gang culture. Set in East L.A., Electricidad (Katie Farmin) spends the majority of the play mourning and planning to avenge the death of her king pin father. She considers her sister Ifigenia (Perla Ponce) a traitor for having abandoned the cholo life to join a convent in Fresno, and seeks the help of her brother Orestes' (Zach Ninneman) to restore order to the barrio by means of an unthinkable crime.

Changes in lighting effectively designate different times and places on stage, while the set itself virtually never changes (and Electricidad never leaves the stage). Alternately, we see Electricidad grieving by her father's body in her front yard; Orestes in his cholo training under the guidance of the more experienced cholo Nino (Stephen Forrest); and the gossiping La Connie, La Carmen and La Cuca (Saranda Karaveshi, Kim Jennings and Gabrielle Lara, respectively), a modern version of the chorus distinctive of Greek drama, endlessly sweeping and speculating about the events unfolding on stage.

Farmin delivers a powerful performance as the lead. She imbues Electricidad with intense (nearly neurotic) passion, emotion and energy throughout the production, which is no small feat, considering that the play runs a full two hours. While Electricidad remains resolved in her thirst for vengeance, Farmin presents a character that is complex and tormented; her grief and, more often, her rage are quite tangible. Many of those feelings are directed toward Electricidad's mother, Clemencia (Mischa Dewalt); Dewalt has excellently crafted this chola mother through accent and gesture (certainly helped as well by the costume and makeup design). The accents of some of the other actors are noticeably less refined, a fact enhanced by the mixture of Spanish and English in the script. The Spanglish itself has the successful effect of bringing the audience into the world and culture of the play. Yolanda Knight stands out in her role as Electricidad's sassy abuela, the oldest member of the troubled family, yet still tough enough to sport high heels and smoke a joint with her granddaughter. While most of the play favors dialogue over action, the characters are intriguing and presented well, and the climax had my heart pounding, thanks to the powerful direction and sound effects.

Electricidad is playing March 11th, 16th, and 18th in the Experimental Theatre on UNM campus. Tickets are $12 general, $10 faculty and seniors, and $8 UNM staff and students. Tickets may be purchased through the UNM Ticket Office at 505-925-5858 or online at www.unmtickets.com.

--Sarah Parro



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