G In broadcasting terminology, a “fade” is a transition from one scene or one moment to the next. In Tanya Saracho’s play Fade, the unlikely friendship between conflicted TV-show writer Lucia and janitor Abel makes numerous significant transitions, but the transition that proves most significant of all is the one that Lucia herself makes by the one-act tale’s end.
A onetime television writer herself (ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder,” HBO’s “Looking”), Saracho knows the intricate and pretentious language of that industry, and it’s that executive blather of which young Lucia, a diversity hire, is so contemptuous. She finds a quick ally in the affable, plainspoken man who cleans her office, though their initial conversations are tangled in semantics, offended stares and affronts over the nature of their respective Mexican heritages. Mexico-born Lucia (Sofia Sassone) is alone among white corporate suits, and lonely in her new L.A. life. All this she imparts at profane, exasperated high speed. The reserved, dutiful Abel (Javier Guerrero) sympathizes and eventually opens up to her in a big way. His personal revelation, and how it steers the course toward Fade’s dramatic high point, is an easily detected plot device. As such, the impact of Lucia’s climactic all-about-me misdeed is blunted.
Moxie Theatre is presenting this production of Fade in association with the Latinx company TuYo Theatre. Maria Patrice Amon is directing. For a show immersed in the quest for cultural identity and claiming one’s rights in a superficial, privileged world, this one eschews the temptation of drawn-out speechy scenes. It successfully opts instead for quickly paced late-night encounters between Abel and Lucia in her office. Sassone’s sometimes-shrill Lucia can be irritating and a challenge to care about, though Saracho obviously created a protagonist who is riddled with insecurities. Guerrero’s comparatively underplayed Abel has enough heart for both of the characters. Warm and believable, Guerrero even exceeds his fine turn in New Village Arts’ excellent production of Jose Rivera’s Cloud Tectonics earlier this year.
Fade’s final Lucia-Abel encounter, one bereft of dialogue, actually speaks the loudest, and is worth the transitional journey to get there.
(Review originally published in San Diego CityBeat on 10/31/18.)
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.