BWW Review: SONG FOR THE DISAPPEARED is Evocative at Passage Theatre

The Passage Theatre's world premier of Tanya Saracho's Song for the Disappeared begins and ends with the melodic and haunting singing of the Cantú family's most fragile member, Nena, a recluse who tends to injured baby animals on their south Texas ranch and played with endearing tenderness by Christina Nieves. When her younger brother goes missing, the estranged family members descend upon her private sanctuary and stage their rescue efforts, confronting the open wounds of the past.

The deepest among these, we learn, was made five years earlier after the death of the family matriarch. Her mark on the ranch has all but disappeared after Leo Cantú (Felipe Gorostiza) hastily remarried his former secretary Mila (Annie Dow). The oldest daughter Adriana (Vivia Font), a writer living in self-exile in Chicago, helps us understand Mila's place in the proud family. "I'm sorry," Ms. Front delivers with chilling force to her young stepmother, "I didn't recognize you without the headset." Ms. Dow imbues Mila with a complexity and mystery behind her "trophy-wife" exterior, however, which is not to be underestimated. Raised in Mexico, and no stranger to the narcos, she knows, "What a gun tastes like shoved in your mouth." The talented ensemble cast is rounded out with south Texas native, Thomas Christopher Nieto, who plays the family's loyal bodyguard, Mario Payan.

Chicago-based playwright Tanya Saracho's work has been produced at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Goodman Theatre and Teatro Vista, among others. She is currently in development with HBO. Ms. Saracho's Song for the Disappeared opens The Passage Theatre's 30th season and continues its mission to create and produce "topically relevant" new plays.

Performances of Song for the Disappeared are Thursday through Saturday at 8pm, and Sunday at 3pm. Tickets are $20 - $30 ($35 Saturday night). Student, group and senior discounts available. To purchase tickets call (609) 392-0766, or visit The Mill Hill Playhouse is located at 205 E. Front Street, at the corner of Montgomery Street in Trenton, NJ. Free guarded on-street parking. The production runs through October 25. With Annie Dow, Vivia Front, Felipe Gorostiza, Thomas Christopher Nieto, Christina Nieves. Directed by Alex Correia.

Photo Credit: Michael Goldstein

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From This Author Sarah Vander Schaaff