Monday, May 11, 2009


Octavio Solis. Lydia. Mark Taper Forum. 4/28/2009.

I didn't go in expecting much from Lydia. The advertising for the production was pretty terrible; it just suggested the show was a family drama set in Texas on the U.S./Mexican border. I was glad CTG was doing something that wasn't by and about white people, but I didn't have much hope for the show itself. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised.

Lydia tells the story of a Mexican-American family that has been devastated by a car crash that left its youngest member brain damaged and helpless. When a beautiful young woman joins the family to care for the injured daughter, all of the family's secrets and pains are slowly revealed. All of that sounds fairly mundane, but what makes this play exciting is that it gives voice to the disabled daughter and addresses all sorts of issues of sexuality. Its portrayals of sexuality are risky and disturbing so that they challenged me as an audience member. I'm still unsure how I feel about the gender roles in the play; they were far from perfect with Celia as the damaged and idealized daughter and Lydia as the beautiful young woman who brings change. The girls act as foils for each other surrounded by angry, repressed, violent men. My reaction to the play was complex and conflicted; it made me want to think and didn't supply me with easy answers about how I felt about it. I found the fact that this play challenged me to think about it particularly refreshing; I admire the play very much for that.

There were things I didn't love; Celia's sing-song voice irritated me and I found some of the dream/memory scenes problematic, but overall the play was more complex and interesting than I expected, and I found myself recommending it to people. If you have time to catch it before it closes this weekend (May 17th) it's definitely worth seeing and thinking about. I'd love to know what other people thought.