Each generation of immigrants learns that assimilation comes at a price, as we see in the world premiere of FADE, where two Mexicans, from different classes, work in the same TV studio building in LA. Lucia (Maria Fernández) is a "diversity hire," that is, she was hired because she is Latina, while Abel (Eddie Martinez) works on the evening janitorial crew. They meet one evening, when Lucia is working late and Abel comes to clean her basement office.

Eddie Martinez as Abel and Maria Fernandez as Lucia
Eddie Martinez as Abel and
Maria Fernández as Lucia
Photo: Adams Visual Communications
Playwright Tanya Saracho's dialectic between race (pigmentation) and class (financial status) is compelling: Lucia was raised in a bourgeois family, while Abel comes from poorer stock; Lucia is lighter- and Abel is darker-skinned. After getting off on the wrong foot, Lucia and Abel begin to share details of their life in late-night discussions.

Lucia, who recently finished her first novel, is trying to become a relevant contributor to the daily scene-writing collaboration for the afternoon Hispanic-oriented soap opera on which she works. In Abel, she finds someone who not only has lived a dramatic life, but has a gift for expressing the details.

Maria Fernandez as Lucia and Eddie Martinez as Abel
Maria Fernández as Lucia and
Eddie Martinez as Abel
Photo: Adams Visual Communications
While Lucia must work for living, her privileged upbringing shows in her approach to life, which is obvious to Abel from the start, just as his gritty past frames his perspective. The contrast between Fernández' and Martinez' characters is endearing, funny, and poignant. Both are acutely aware of the racism they face every day, though it is Abel, alone, who understands the implications of their class differences, even as he (temporarily) indulges himself in the romantic possibilities of their relationship.

Lucia and Abel's star-crossed emotional arc is compelling. We root for them, despite the odds, knowing that it is class, not racial characteristics, that will determine the outcome. Saracho's dialogue is smart and the story, an urbane comedy with a political twist, is one of those rare pieces in contemporary American theatre that focuses on the seduction of materialism, rather than its celebration. We expect this Denver Center Theatre Company commission to have legs.

The Denver Center Theatre Company's world premiere of FADE, by Tanya Saracho runs through March 13th. For tickets:

Bob Bows

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