Half of Tanya Saracho’s Kita y Fernanda is spoken in Spanish, but you don’t have to be bilingual to be moved by this thoughtful play’s treatises on class distinction, friendship and identity. The final production of Mo’olelo’s 2012 season is also one of the company’s best on record – smartly performed by Cynthia Bastidas (Kita) and Gabriela Trigo (Fernanda) with solid support from Melba Novoa (as Fernanda’s mother) and the versatile Olivia Espinosa (in three roles), and staged in a fast-moving but wholly absorbing 90 minutes.
A chance sighting between two young women at an immigration reform march in Chicago prefaces a look back at two very different girls thrown together in a big Texas house. Fernanda, the privileged daughter of Mexican nationals, is pampered but lonely in that big Texas house until the arrival on the premises of Kita, the daughter of the undocumented Mexican maid. The sisterly bond between them is forged in simple, mutual recognitions but also in episodes of anger and pain that cut to the quick. Kita is the fighter and the idealist that Fernanda wishes to be. Where adulthood takes them, and what happens when they meet again after 14 years apart, is as sobering as real life, which sometimes resists even the most ardent fight for change. You will be changed by Kita y Fernanda.
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.