Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

The cries of the gauco, a laughing falcon bird of Mexico, echo ominously with the ancient Greek myth of Medea, a sorceress who uses revenge and murder to settle her family grievances. Pack your suitcase as The Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven prepares to take you on a perilous eleven hundred mile journey from Zamora, Mexico to California until Saturday, April 1 in Luis Alfaro’s “Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles.”

What would it be like to leave your homeland, abandoning all you have known and loved, sneaking out under cover of darkness, to seek a new life in an unknown country? By acknowledging that you are traveling illegally and could be be sent back to Mexico at any moment is frightening. Being undocumented and wanting a better life for you and your family are your only crimes.

Medea’s skills as a seamstress are no guarantee that freedom will be hers. She cannot sew her way to citizenship, earning a paltry $8 for each shirt, learning that Bloomingdale’s will sell that same garment for $120. Camila Moreno’s Medea is content to spend her days and nights bending over her sewing machine, working to protect and encourage her partner Alejandro Hernandez’s Hason and their sports loving son Acan, played by Romar Fernandez. Hason is ambitious and will employ any means to further his career, even if it means becoming uncomfortably close to his boss, Monica Sanchez’s Armida.

Supporting Medea in her new life are her long time servant Tita, a grandmotherly Alma Martinez, who breaks the fourth wall of the theater and speaks directly to the audience, explaining so much of the neighborhood gossip and the family’s background, and a new friend who shares her history, Josie, a sweet talking Nancy Rodriguez.

Waving banana leaves, alternately in a blessing or a curse, Medea tries to protect her loved ones but circumstances beyond her control overwhelm her and she relies on drastic deeds to cure her woes. Laurie Woolery directs this intensely personal saga of love and loss, family and forgiveness on a set designed by Marcelo Martinez Garcia, with impressive lighting by Stephen Strawbridge and a striking gauco costume by Kitty Cassetti.
For tickets ($15-65), call Yale Rep, University Theatre, 222 York Street, New Haven at 203-432-1234 or online at Masks must be worn. Performances are Tuesday at 8 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Yale Rep’s annual education initiative WILL POWER will provide three morning performances free of charge for New Haven high school students.

Moving to a new home in the same community can be traumatic, but what if the move was monumental, in geography and perspective, how might you react? Can you understand what Medea feels forced to do in the name of family and love?