Directed by Cecile D. Keenan
Produced by Teatro Vista Theatre
At the Goodman’s Owen Theatre, Chicago
The Chekhov inspired drama – El Nogalar (The Pecan Orchid) features the talented local Chicago playwright Tanya Saracho’s ability to write warm, even humorous female characters. El Nogalar is a commissioned work from Teatro Vista that has Saracho adapting Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard into a contemporary drama set in Northern Mexico. Utilizing Brian Sidney Bembridge’s large dollhouse set to depict a grand manor house surrounded by trees and loads of open space, El Nogalar live both in Cekhov’s world and Saracho’s world where class pressure and social turmoil threatens traditional families land and lifestyle in contemporary Mexico.
El Nogalar deals with the fate of a longtime family estate neglected when the family matriarch, Maitre( the firery Charin Alverez), and one of her daughters, Anita (Christina Nieves) left years ago for the USA. They left the estate in the hands of the melancholy daughter, Valeria (Sandra Delgado). The maid, Dunia (the charming Yunuen Pardo) and the former laborer, Lopez (the dashing Carlo Lorenzo Garcia) turned go-between with the drug cartel that is the de-facto rulers of Mexico are friends/lovers/enemies. Lopez tries to secure his wealth by ‘getting along and going along’ with the turbulent times in Mexica. Dunia dreams of an escape to the USA.
El Nogalar features the melancholy dashed hopes and dreams of the women as they struggle to make sense of the changing times. Saracho give each character richly textured, often lyrical speeches depicting their uncertainty. I was especially impressed with Carlo Lorenzo Garcia, Charin Alvarez and Yunuen Pardo’s performances. The play wins us easily and garners enough empathy for us to care about these folks. Chekov does translate into Latina angst through Saracho’s fine interruption. The play is worth seeing.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: April 3, 2011
At the Goodman Theatre, 170N. Dearborn, Chicago, IL, call 312-443-3800, www.goodmantheatre.org, tickets $10 – $42, Tuesdays thru Thursdays at 7;30 pm, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 2 & 8 pm, Sundays at 2 & 7:30 pm, running time is 90 minutes without intermission, through April 24, 2011