This new 90-minute play promised to dramatize several of my painful reads of the past year regarding the vulnerability of people caught, often through no fault of their own, in the ultra-violent wars of the Mexican narco-cartels. These issues have been painfully explored in both fiction (The Cartel) and non-fiction (Down by the River) exposés reviewed here.
Song for the Disappeared, by Tanya Saracho, probes the problem of fractured loyalties and the inability of even the wealthy to distance themselves from the consequences of operating within a totally broken system. The family patriarch is an honorable man, apparently, but his uprightness provides him and his family no protection; his recently returned daughter has pursued her literary aims, but only her naiveté allowed her to believe her novel about a narcotraficante family would be regarded as fiction; her ex-fiancé, now the father’s only trusted aide, has turned to religion for protection; and the father’s young wife, viewed by the others as a complete airhead, has her own demons.
When the play begins, the family heir Javier has disappeared. The family reunites at its remote Texas ranch, where everyone’s vulnerabilities are exposed, and no one is sure how to proceed or what will come next. Their struggles are symbolized in the actions of the younger daughter, slightly deranged and struggling to save the smallest and most vulnerable creatures she finds. Meanwhile, the wild dogs circle every more closely.
The all-Latino cast in the Passage Theatre production does a fine job. Even in Passage’s tiny venue, it is an engaging theatrical event, directed by Alex Correia. On stage until October 25.