Kita y Fernanda | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Kita y Fernanda


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Kita y Fernanda, Teatro Luna. Playwright Tanya Saracho poignantly addresses issues of class and self-hatred among Mexican-Americans by tracing the lives of the title characters from childhood into their late 20s. Kita is the academically gifted daughter of a live-in maid employed by Fernanda's affluent family. Fernanda--a chubby child-monarch with a queen-size sense of entitlement--has a battered, boozy mother who seems to have emigrated from the Valley of the Dolls.

Indian Kita and light-skinned Fernanda live within a hierarchy of skin color, class, and citizenship. As a child in the Texas household where her mother is the servant, Kita is essentially Fernanda's pet. She escapes to college and never looks back. But as a career woman Kita fears that she's fought so hard against stereotyping that she's lost her true self and become nothing. Meanwhile Fernanda gets a wave of free passes. After a decade of purposelessness, she decides to contact Kita.

Marisabel Suarez and Beatriz Jamaica, playing multiple roles, are standout performers, flaunting their range in a spectrum of Latina characters: iron-fisted political wife, vata homegirl philosopher, poison-pen journalist. The mixed-language dialogue presents no genuine barrier to understanding for non-Spanish speakers. Though sometimes slow in Marcela Munoz's staging, Kita y Fernanda deserves close attention, guiding audiences through a cultural and emotional vista that popular entertainment--obsessed with kingpins, cojones, and drive-by shootings--rarely recognizes.

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