For some the meaning of the title might be lost, but “Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles” is about immigration and the sorrowful plight of women in both Mexico and Los Angeles. Mojada means wet and is the Spanish slang equivalent for the English pejorative “wetback.” In this case, it refers to a woman.
Being at the Getty Villa, reminds one of the classic Greek roots to the story. The original play by Euripides was first produced in about 431 BCE and is about the Medea, the daughter of a king and the granddaughter of the sun god. Medea said she would help Jason get the Golden Fleece from her father if he promised to marry her. Although Jason was successful in fulfilling the king’s requirements but they still had to flee from her father’s kingdom, killing her brother. After 10 years, Jason begins to wander and leaved Medea for another woman. Knowing that she and her children by Jason cannot go home, she kills them and feeds them to Jason.
“Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles” updates the tragedy to the current day. People use cellphones, Subway, McDonalds and 7-Elevens exist. Mention is made of former Mayor Antonio Ramon Villaraigosa (2005-2013). The time is now the difficulties faced by Medea as a woman are distressing. Has so little changed since the time of Euripides?
When the play starts, we understand that there is sorcery, at least in the form or magical realism. The narrator, Tita (VIVIS) is the servant, cook and confidante of Medea having been with her from birth in Mexico. She along with Medea live in a two-story house. Medea sews piece work in her front yard. What she makes for $8 goes for $120 at Bloomingdales. Her bosses know she is illegal and can’t really bargain. Hason (Justin Huen) no longer has to hang out in front of Home Depot. He has a regular gig helping in construction under the formidable Armida (Marlen Forte). He tells Medea that he’s getting promotions–more work and gifts of better clothes. The woman from around the corner who sells pan dulce, Josefina (Zilah Mendosa) also knows Hason and comes to meet Medea, asking her to make her a sexy dress.
In this 95-minute intermissionless play, Luis Alfaro’s new adaptation, exposes the tragedy of immigrant women through both Medea and Josefina. Yet it is Medea whose fall is the most heartbreaking. Jason is a bit of a gold digger and their only child Acan (played on alternating nights by Anthony Gonzalez and Quinn Marquez) is also lured away by material goods. Fleeing her father’s land and her brother’s harsh views of her as a woman, Medea has come from a land that didn’t value her as a human being because of her gender to a land that doesn’t value her because of her illegal status. Hason betrays her more than once and she understand that her love has been for men unworthy of her trust.
Jessica Kubzansky provides us with the sounds of East Los Angeles and the constant feeling of anxiety. Medea has the uneasy smile and tremulous paranoia of someone suffering from traumatic stress. Alfaro’s script eventually reveals Medea’s story, the reason for her and Hason’s sudden flight from Mexico and the horror of the journey itself. None of it should come as a surprise to people who know the tale of Medea, except in the details. This is not a happy story and not one meant for children.
A near full moon lit the night I saw the play at the Getty Villa. Cushy pillows are provided. It might be cool enough for a jacket, but we didn’t use the blanket we brought. Dinner can be bought at the cafe next to the staging area and parts of the museum are open until 15 minutes before the performance.
Traffic up to the villa may be slow, particularly for the last few miles where it was stop-and-go traffic. Go early. Park and enjoy your evening. This is Alfaro’s third adaptation of a Greek play into a Latino reality. The first was “Electricidad” which was presented at the Mark Taper Forum. The second was “Oedipus El Rey” at the Pasadena Boston Court Theatre. This production was a joint project between the Getty Villa and Boston Court.
This is the last weekend of the run with the last performance on October 3, 2015. Tickets are still available. All performances are at 8:00 p.m. at the Getty Villa, the Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater. For more information, Call (310) 440-7300 or visit the Getty Villa website.
Thursdays: $40 general, $36 senior/student
Fridays: $42 general
Saturdays: $45 general
Running time is approximately 90 minutes, no intermission. Parking is $10 after 5:00 p.m. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit the Getty Villa website.