Borders—especially the economic divide that separates recent immigrants from Mexicans who have lived in the States for decades—figure prominently in Diane Rodriguez’s play, the first world premiere Teatro Luna has produced by an artist outside of its ensemble. Directing her own work, the Los Angeles–based artist tackles this compelling matter of intracultural tension by spinning it through an untidy domestic drama told on a tidy front lawn, with uneven results.
That yard belongs to Lily (Isabel Quintero), a widowed second-generation Mexican–American living in a nice L.A. neighborhood. Lily urges recently arrived Big Maria and Little Maria, sisters in her employ, to move in with her, eager to help them get grounded in the States and to assuage her own loneliness. Lily’s sister Nellie and brother-in-law Sammy are horrified at the thought, but neither can see beyond their own judgment and ambition to understand how much the other sisters have risked.
This whirl of squabbles and secrets unfolds so rapidly and, at times, broadly across Brian Sidney Bembridge’s bright front-yard set that key moments of connection and revelation don’t resonate. This haste might gear down throughout the run, as the capable cast has a genuine and engaging grasp of its characters. At a post-show talkback, Living Large was commended for asking provocative questions without providing pat answers. That it does—but taking more time with those questions will allow us to consider the answers more fully.