A searing ‘Mojada’ at 1st Stage tells tragedy of a Mexican family in LA

Passionate performances and magic realism depict immigrants' quest for the American dream.

Mojada makes its regional premiere at 1st Stage in Tysons as the reimagined tragedy of a Mexican family in East Los Angeles with passionate performances and searing moments of magic realism.

True to the Greek tragedy Medea by Euripides, violence, murder, and revenge abound in Mojada. The play opens with Medea unwilling to leave her new home’s confines. Months earlier, Medea and her partner, their son, and their truest of old friends fled from a farming community in Mexico, their lives marked by domestic violence—and they are now surviving as undocumented workers.

Victoria ‘Tori’ Gomez as Medea in ‘Mojada.’ Photo by Teresa Castracane.

Mojada translates literally as “wet,” and is a slur against undocumented Mexicans, akin to “wetback” in English. The slur is not only that they are undocumented but that their new life’s promise, and perhaps in a larger sense America’s promise to welcome the tired, the poor, will never be their own. The key question—will the American dream never be their own because of fate, or because of their own tragic decisions?—is left for the audience to decide, and the play is all the more powerful for it.

The tragedy evolves in short bursts moving from the present to the past. The moments of magic realism, however, rise above the pedestrian set of this 1st Stage production. The simple, telling moments when the lights dim and the actors speak to the audience of their journey, history, pains, and dreams are when this production rises from the ordinary to the extraordinary.

Mojada, which premiered in 2012, is the work of acclaimed playwright and USC professor Luis Alfara. The son of Mexican American farmworkers, Alfara is the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” and is renowned for his modern Greek tragedy retellings.

Directed by Elena Velasco, the cast takes flight with Medea, played by Catholic University undergraduate Tori Gomez. This performer is a rising star to watch—she embodied Medea’s tortured passion. Opposite her, Camilo Linares, as her life partner, charms as the lying, unfaithful, striving day laborer willing to betray her for his idea of success and the American dream.

Mariela Lopoez-Ponce, Camilo Linares, and Victoria ‘Tori’ Gomez in ‘Mojada.’ Photo by Teresa Castracane.

Mariela Ponce-Lopez, as the lifelong friend, healer, and protector of Medea, is an emotional touchstone. Her monologues grip like a spell.

The neighborhood gossip, played by Diana Gonzales-Ramirez, adds humor and insights to the immigrant experience, a delightful counterpoint to the somber household and fearful, traumatized Medea. Her lines, such as “Only people with money have secrets,” cut deep with street smarts.

Victoria ‘Tori’ Gomez, Diana Gonzalez-Ramirez, and Nancy Flores-Tirado in ‘Mojada.’ Photos by Teresa Castracane.

Lastly, as the powerful and knowledgeable new American, Nancy Flores-Tirado delivers, as the other woman, the reason for Mojada to come to its bloody end.

The play includes this audience advisory from 1st Stage: Mojada is recommended for adult audiences. True to the original Greek tragedy, the play includes mature situations, violence, adultery, and the murder of a child as well as adult language in both English and Spanish.

Running Time: 90 minutes, no intermission.

Mojada plays through May 7, 2023, at 1st Stage, 1524 Spring Hill Road, Tysons, VA. Getting there. To purchase tickets ($15, student, military, educators; $47, seniors; $50, general admission; $35, Thursday evening), go online or call 703-854-1856. The first 20 tickets for each performance are only $20. Plus, a YES pass for high school students in Fairfax County offers free subscriptions. See details here.

Open-Captioned Performances: April 27 – 7:30 pm, April 28 – 8:00 pm, April 29 – 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm, April 30 – 2:00 pm
Audio-Described Performance:  April 30 – 2:00 pm

COVID Safety: All patrons, volunteers, and staff are required to be masked while inside the 1st Stage Theatre facility. See 1st Stage’s complete COVID Safety Information here.

The program for Mojada is online here.

Mojada by Luis Alfaro
Directed by Elena Velasco

Featuring: Victoria (Tori) Gomez, Nancy Flores-Tirado, Diana Gonzalez-Ramirez, Mariela Lopez-Ponce, Camilo Linares, Rodin Alcerro, Noah Donadio, and Sophia Marrero

Scenic design by Mariana C. Fernandez, costume design by Taylor Aragon, lighting design by Luis Garcia, sound design by Cresent Haynes, and props design by Pauline Lamb


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