BWW Reviews: West Coast Premiere EL NOGALAR Sizzles at the Fountain
by Tanya Saracho
directed by Laurie Woolery
through March 11
Tanya Saracho's El Nogalar means The Pecan Orchard in English, so its similarity to Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard rings a bell even before one sees the play. There are differences between the two, of course. Saracho has taken out most of Chekhov's male characters and leaves but one: Lopez (Justin Huen) - Lopakhin in Cherry Orchard - the grandson of servants who has risen to sudden power and wealth through Mexico's drug cartel. It's not the Russian aristocratic middle class who have lost out to the rising lower class as in Chekhov, where the bank forecloses on the Ranevsky estate, but the Mexican drug dynasty that has contaminated all Mexican citizens, allowing the poor to usurp control and money - Saracho calls it new money, Facebook money. Now in a splendidly directed and acted production at the Fountain Theatre, this West Coast premiere sizzles with earthy passion and sensuality.
This wonderful Nogalar, with Spanish and Spanglish phrases sprinkled throughout - that definitely do not impede listeners' comprehension - has a rich poetic hue, as with, to quote but one of many metaphors, 'the locusts raping the trees' of the orchard to describe the cartel taking control. It is beautifully written and executed by an outstanding director and cast. A truly great evening of theatre!