Hip Shot: La Llorona

La-lloronaFort Fringe — Bedroom

Remaining Performances:

Friday, July 25, 6:30 p.m.

Sunday, July 27, 1:45 p.m.

They say: Andy Walker, a public defense attorney, is assigned to defend Marina Renaldo, a woman accused drowning her two children. The two women begin to develop an unlikely friendship. Meanwhile at home Andy struggles to save her marriage, as she and her husband deal with the consequences of a miscarriage. Who is the real weeping woman?

Danny's Take: La Llorona, the weeping woman, distraught over her husband's departure, drowns her children in the river. Similar legends pop up all over the place. Today, bad parents tell their children this story of an even worse parent to keep them from misbehaving. Out of the shadow of this old folk tale steps La Llorona, an atmospheric new legal drama from playwright Amanda Zeitler and Three Candidates Graduate Theater Company.

It centers on an attorney, let’s call her Andy because that’s her name, set to defend Marina, who has been accused of drowning her two children in the bathtub. A third character, Andy’s insufferable husband Jude, shows up every other scene to be a douchebag, but he’s mostly unimportant. Sorry, trying to remain impartial. The three characters (well really the two women; get lost, Jude) find themselves on a downward spiral as the case rends their lives to pieces and forces them to confront the difficulties and sacrifices of motherhood.

I couldn’t help but think the play felt very academic. There is an enticing mystery with an appropriate IV drip of information, the revelations hit in all the right spots building to an unexpected but inevitable conclusion and everything is properly foreshadowed. It feels like it was written by someone who just graduated at the top of their playwriting class. I mean this in a good way. The script is structured wonderfully.

The minor problem (and I emphasize minor) is that it sometimes lacks that spark of daring you can’t get in a classroom. The dialogue can be a bit clunky and occasionally cliche, particularly Marina’s. Lots of “oh shit”s and “no shit”s and “like shit”s. Then there’s Jude, who basically exists only to make your skin crawl. I couldn’t quite tell if I was supposed to buy him as a powerful, intimidating lawyer instead of just a jerk, but take that as you will. Everything was tied up so nicely and I can only imagine what a little looseness, a little danger, might have done for this wonderfully written play.

But of course, with that being my only complaint, and it’s my job to find something to complain about, the show is in great shape. It is a deeply moving story and I recommend giving it a chance if you have the time what with your busy schedules and all. There’s much Fringe to see and you could do a lot worse that La Llorona with your night.