Runs at LATC October 13th – November 11th
Reviewed by Velia La Garda
Touching on themes of religion, relationships and assimilation in the U.S., Evelina Fernandez’s play, Faith, captures the history of the late 1930s and 40s for Mexican-Americans in the Southwest. The play centers on the Morales family’s struggle to survive in a small mining town in Arizona during the Great Depression and through World War II. Silvestre Morales, played by LATC founding member and actor Sal Lopez, the father in the family, has a complicated relationship with his wife, whom he met in Mexico and ran away with to the U.S., escaping the harsh realities of the Mexican Revolution. It’s a relationship that keeps you asking questions until the end of the play, when the history of their relationship is revealed and brought full circle.
Faith brings into focus the poverty and adversity Mexican-Americans faced in the 30s and 40s and how the women struggled to keep their families together. What Fernandez does so cleverly in this play is show how the young daughters of the Morales family hope to break free of the traditions that keep them from achieving their dreams, including performing on amateur hour, singing hits from the Andrews Sisters, whom they live to emulate. At the same time, you are made keenly aware of the struggles of Esperanza Morales, played expertly by Lucy Rodriguez, the matriarch of the family, who wants her girls to have a better life and not get married at a young age like she did.
World War II and the loss of boys who didn’t survive the war is made painfully clear in the play. At one point, Matias Ponce, who plays the boyfriend of Charity Morales, brilliantly performed by Alexis de la Rocha, asks her if she will pray for him to come back alive. She promises she will and you can see it never occurs to her that he won’t. Charity is the daughter who faithfully listens to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fireside chats on the radio, telling her sisters not to worry about the future. But even though the play Faith has many difficult moments to endure, it’s the role of Fe or Faith Morales, played beautifully by Esperanza America Ibarra which leaves you feeling that her determination to make it as a singer will somehow take her family out of poverty and realize some aspect of the American dream.
Faith is part of a trilogy of plays that Fernandez wrote based on the stories of her family. This is the first time Faith has been performed and is scheduled to run through November 11th. Fernandez hopes to bring Faith back in 2014 with the other two plays of the trilogy that were performed at LATC earlier this year and in 2011. As the foundation to parts two and three, Faith is rock solid, delivering a story from the heart with a simple and strong message of “keeping the faith” to its audience.
Faith: Part I of A Mexican Trilogy
By Evelina Fernández
Directed by José Luis Valenzuela
Produced by The Latino Theater Company
Thursday – Saturday 8pm | Sunday 3pm
General $34 | Students, Seniors $20 | Groups 10 + $20 | $10 Thursdays