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Enfrascada Tries to Put a Spell on Summerworks

Witchcraft--strictly taboo?
Carl Skutsch

When fragile, electrified love lines sever, there’s no magic solution to patch things up—or is there? Alicia (Flora Diaz), an overeducated Chicago museum curator, confronts this possibility, which lies at the heart of Tanya Saracho’s inviting new comedy Enfrascada (colorfully directed by Jerry Ruiz for Clubbed Thumb’s Summerworks series). When her fiancée breaks her heart, Alicia goes reluctantly to consult a senora dabbling in brujeria. Soon the former skeptic finds herself engaged—in a major witchcraft regimen, burying odd objects in jars and hoping that hoodoo, if nothing else, will bring back her philandering Diego.

Diaz puts a compassionate spin on the lead character’s tightly wound defensiveness, and her gradual transformation into obsession is striking. But the play’s richest scenes take place in the shabby parlor rooms and cluttered kitchens of the four successive spiritual-advisor ladies—winningly played by Annie Henk and Christina Pumariega—who diagnose the true sources of Alicia’s distress (using the wisdom of age as much as supernatural secrets).

Ultimately, Enfrascada delivers a familiar psychological-redemption-with-quirks story, and the drama can often feel like a too-tidy, commercially minded screenplay. The playwright overdraws the best-friend characters of Carolina (Anna Lamadrid) and Yesenia (Jessica Pimentel), and her projected scene titles (“OPERATION STINKY DRAWERS”) emphasize the obvious. But Saracho always inflects the dialogue with lively urban-American Spanish turns, and when all her elements align the right way, the comedy acquires potent charms of its own.


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