A table. A chair. A bunch of tarot and poker cards. A woman. That´s all that Brandi Bravo and her crew need to create the world of one of the better plays I’ve seen lately.
A beautiful woman came to the stage for the first time, but as soon as the lights go on we don´t see her anymore, we see just a 7-year-old child, looking with stunned eyes at all the world around her. I must confess that I was afraid of the fact that she was playing a little kid, too often the acting in these cases becomes not believable or even ridiculous. But from the first gesture, Brandi is not acting like a child, she becomes a child; a great job by the director Jennifer M. Ortega is apparent in these parts. The same happens with all the different roles that she takes on in the play (8 in total). Special attention is deserved to the grandmother and the whore aunt, a role that was very well-built and aroused laughter in the audience throughout the play.
The play runs smoothly, it´s hard to make a solo piece and keep the attention of the audience every single minute, a fact that is helped thanks to the job of Aaron porter, the lighting designer, and Curtis Curtis, the sound designer. They create a very alive atmosphere, veering, very adequate to the mood that was required during each part.
In terms of content, even if the theme of the play is not especially original (the problems inside a dysfunctional family), it´s original in the way that it´s faced. The Latino heritage is very obvious: in a Latino approach, the families are not only the parents and the children, the family is everybody around: aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, neighbors, etc. All of them have a voice, an opinion in all that happens, and you can see this in the play. Everything is everybody´s business, everything is allowed to be talked about. Brandi introduced in her play the role of the mother, who doesn’t like this kind of family behavior, helping to highlight this particular way of life that is not that common in the increasingly individualistic US society.
In conclusion, the play brings me back to the roots of theater, to the simplicity and purity of good actors and good lines showing feelings of people to other people. If you have a chance to see it, don´t miss it!
You can see Women of Smoke at Jimmy’s No. 43, as part of FringeNYC from now until August 23rd.
For more information and to buy tickets go to: