The Maria Chronicles, Teatro Luna. You might be disinclined to take seriously a line of women holding up signs bearing slogans such as "Up With Ass!" Yet this silly moment in Teatro Luna's third full-length ensemble-created revue perfectly encapsulates the company's mission: to empower and entertain. In a series of scenes loosely tied together by a casting-call concept, The Maria Chronicles successfully conjoins personal confession, social commentary, and comedy.
At times the changes in tone can be jarring, and the impact of some serious, heartfelt monologues is muted by dull writing. But ultimately this 80-minute exploration of Latina stereotypes conveys a lot of emotion and great energy, giving us a taste of what it's like to be Latina--especially an aspiring Latina actress who's told that success is about image and accent, not talent.
As directed by two of the seven ensemble members, Coya Paz and Tanya Saracho, this production often has the comfortable familiarity of women hanging out together. At other moments it's carefully choreographed to make the action echo and add weight to the words. Both styles work equally well as this ensemble proves that it's possible to make an audience laugh while offering pointed, provocative observations on body image, self-respect, confidence, power, ethnicity, and identity.