by Will Demers

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday December 13, 2019

Elia Saldana and Daniel Duque-Estrada in "Fade"
Elia Saldana and Daniel Duque-Estrada in "Fade"  (Source:Mark Turek)

Lucia, (Elia Saldana), a young writer arrives in Hollywood, to start work in television, and her expectations are completely through the roof. She is understandably nervous: suspecting that she's only a "diversity" hire, and that her voice and written words won't be heard. Upon discovering the building's janitor is a young Latino man, she confides her fears to him. He seems rather reluctant at first, but probably because she's at a different social strata than he is.

"Fade" is the brainchild of Mexican born playwright Tanya Siracho, who's a television writer herself. Currently the creator and showrunner of the series "Vida" on Starz, she has also worked on such high profile shows as "How To Get Away With Murder" and "Looking" on HBO. She's clearly writing what she knows, and draws Lucia as a talented young writer who has already written a book and posies herself for success in the world of series television. It's a very modern story nuanced with issues of diversity, class and self-doubt.

Not only does Lucia have that self-doubt, but so does Abel (Daniel Duque-Estrada), the janitor who is suspicious of the young writer asking him his opinions about her new position and expressing her fears. The pair connect when they learn they both are bilingual, but at first Abel doesn't trust Lucia. She's an executive writer and he's a guy who cleans the building. Still, it doesn't take much to bring his defenses down. Lucia has some quirky charm about her and eventually they sort of click. Sort of.

Abel has a few things to hide, and she's not the kind of person he'd like to confide in, but eventually there are things revealed, and Lucia seems interested in them. Things get complicated when Lucia, trying to shine in the white man's world, makes the inexcusable mistake of sharing a confidence. Masking this confidence as "collaboration," she feels justified in her decision; but will this end her connection with Abel? Or will they continue an unlikely friendship based solely on their shared language?

Siracho gives us two characters that aren't immediately likable but allows them to grow on us in just under 90-minutes (played without intermission). Of the two-member cast, Trinity resident actor Estrada, still relatively new to the company, makes his mark here. His Abel is a multi-leveled man and Estrada brings us a nuanced performance. The same must be said for Saldana, an actress who has done television as well as live theatre, who truly shines as Lucia, a character searching for a way to fit in.

Director Tatyana-Marie Carlo fleshes out these characters from diverse backgrounds while keeping a tight pace on the proceedings. This is a great project for the soon-to-graduate (from the Brown/Trinity MFA program in directing). Here she stages a delightful show, with a mix of English and Spanish, in which we can relate to the characters that seem familiar no matter where they were born.

"Fade" is running through January 5th at Trinity Repertory Company, 201 Washington Street, Providence, Rhode Island 02903. For information or tickets call 401-351-4242 or visit www.trinityrep.com.