Strawberry Theatre Workshop brings Octavio Solis’s award-winning Mexican-American family drama , Lydia, to 12th Avenue Arts.
Lydia, first performed in 2008, tells a twisted story of family, sex, sexuality, and immigration, set in 1970s Texas. In the aftermath of a debilitating car accident that leaves the youngest child in a semi-vegetative state, the Flores family hires Lydia, a recent immigrant from Mexico, as a maid. Sexual, socio-political, and supernatural tensions soon hurtle the family towards the play’s dark conclusion.
Solis’s script is exceptionally well-crafted. The plot and characters quickly grab your attention and refuse to let go for the entirety of the show’s two-and-a-half hour run. I found myself physically tense through many of the key dramatic scenes. The twisted dynamics of the Flores family, often reminiscent of Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, are executed in a way that’s impossible to look away from. Lydia’s characters are also compelling and complex, some inspiring revulsion in one scene and sympathy in the next.
Lydia features a strong ensemble cast, who skillfully bring the story to life. Yadira Duarte is charming, charismatic, and mysterious in the title role. Sofia Raquel Sanchez, currently a junior at Cornish, impresses in the challenging role of Ceci. She convincingly switches between playing a person with severe brain damage and the adolescent consciousness trapped inside that uncommunicative body. However, for me, Ray Gonzalez as patriarch Claudio delivered the standout performance in a show filled with engaging performances. He highlights the humanity in a difficult character. His performance is effective when speaking English or Spanish, as well as in the character’s stretches of silence.
Veteran Seattle director Sheila Daniels helms the exceptional production team. The realistic physical world built by scenic designer Greg Carter and properties manager Robin Macartney gets audience members engaged even as they enter the performance space. Reed Nakayama’s lighting and Rob Witmer’s sound design play important and moving roles in key dramatic moments to great effect.
Strawberry Theatre Workshop’s Lydia is a quality, compelling piece of theatre. It’s both a tense, sexual, magical realist drama, and a heartbreaking drama about a Mexican-American family pursuing the American Dream. The show does contain nudity and sexual content, some involving characters who are minors, so it may not be appropriate for everyone. Lydia is a challenging, well-executed, complex show, and it’s definitely one to see.
Lydia by Octavio Solis. Strawberry Theatre Workshop, 12th Avenue Arts, 1620 12th Ave, Capitol Hill, 98122. Thurs-Fri-Sat-Mon, 7:30 pm, June 1-24. Tickets: http://strawshop.bpt.me/ Info: www.strawshop.org/lydia.html or 206-427-5207.