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Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012

Renaissance’s ‘Enfrascada’ Conjures Comedic Rapport

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Renaissance Theaterworks opens its season with Tanya Saracho's engrossing comedy Enfrascada. It's a contemporary story of friendship between four women set in and around Chicago.

Rana Roman plays Alicia, a woman who finds out that her boyfriend of several years is now seeing someone else. Uncertain of what to do, she follows the advice of a few friends and seeks to get her boyfriend back by means of traditional Latin American folk magic. Roman is heroically vulnerable as Alicia, a woman gradually drawn into the power of ancient mysticism. The transformation from skeptic to true believer would feel really tedious without a performance as good as Roman puts on here.

Alicia is drawn into the world of traditional magic by two good friends. Yadira Correa gives a clever comic take as the brash and aggressive Yesenia. Yunuen Pardo is sweet as the less abrasive Carolina.

Accompanied by a New Age relative played with comic earnestness by Karen Estrada, Alicia embarks on an emotional journey that is marked by some sharp comedy. Alicia consults with three señoras—Annie Henk rounds out the cast by portraying each señora. Henk creates three distinctly different characters. As a crude mother with working-class maternal wisdom, an older woman who divines truths through water and a stern tarot reader who speaks little English, Henk is consistently captivating.

Though Saracho's story itself is fairly unremarkable, its dreamy, down-to-earth humor keeps it appealing throughout. Director Michelle Lopez-Rios has fostered a strong rapport that echoes some of the best contemporary pop comedy. Think of a supernatural “Sex and the City,” but with genuine charm.

Renaissance Theaterworks' production of Enfrascada runs through Nov. 11. For ticket reservations, call 414-291-7800.

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