Review: Teatro Luna’s “Lunitic(a)s”

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Teatro Luna presents:

Lunitic(a)s

Directed & Developed by Tanya Saracho
thru December 20th (ticket info)

reviewed by Aggie Hewitt

Teatro Luna (Chicago’s only all Latina theatre company that produces a full season)’s Lunitic(a)s is a montage of scenes, vignettes and songs, which explore woman’s “everyday insanity” using the conceit of Mayan lunar mythology. It’s a great concept paired with a sophisticated execution that does not dwell in the academic or the poetic but manages to keep both feet planted firmly in the real. The piece features some of the most honest performing I have seen in the city, with talented and vibrant young actresses who rarely if ever take a misstep. Although the show has structural problems, stemming from cramming most of the darker pieces into the last third of the show, the play still maintains a grace and dignity that does not verge on the pretentious.

currently_21 A collaborative, original performance piece about the everyday struggles of womanhood is a risky undertaking today, just as it was in 2007 when Teatro Luna first staged Lunitic(a)s. The concept of the show has an academic feel to it; it is so empowering to it’s actresses, so quietly reverential of their lives and performances, it could pass for the culmination of freshman year at a conservatory; but the execution—writing, acting and directing is strictly professional. These women take themselves and this project seriously, and it pays off. The end result is an honest, simple and refreshing piece of theatre that has the courage to be truthful, introspective and serious when so much theater strives to stay one step ahead of potential criticism.

The play is clearly collaboratively written, with each piece tailor made for the performer. These performances are so vulnerable that you feel like you could climb on stage and join in. These women take the stage with all of the technical astuteness of a trained actor but with the relaxed self-interest of the most charming un-trained performer. They live each moment with deep and open energy that is exactly what you want to see from an all female theater company. Each actor brings her own unique worldview to the stage in this perfectly balanced ensemble. Director Tanya Saracho tempers the course, dry wit of show with graceful movements, slick blocking and crystal clear focus. Mac Vaughey’s lush and communicative lighting design is nicely paired with the elegantly conceived set designed by Dan Matthews.

header The piece is not without it’s problems. The vignettes seem to be arranged in order of darkness of subject, leaving the last third to drag and become a bit uncomfortable. By the end of the play, the audience has caught on to the possibility that a lot of these stories are autobiographical (partly because of their presentation and partly because it says so in the program) and the final third of the show is actually hard to watch. By the end of the play, the women seem broken: the worst parts of their lives have been on display. It’s so personal and dense, at times it feels more like therapy than art. Maybe it’s a choice, but it ends on a bleak view of womanhood. Which is not to say it is not affective. It’s a show that resonates and lingers for days after it’s been experienced. Go see Lunatic(a)s at Chicago Dramatists, you’d be crazy to miss it!

Rating: ★★★½

2 Responses

  1. […] – $25, are currently on sale at http://www.teatroluna.org.  (See this blog’s Lunatic(a)s review here […]

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