Unexpected Stage Co. Presents Tanya Saracho’s ‘Fade’

Camila Calderón as Lucia and Michael Burgos as Abel in Unexpected Stage Company’s Fade. Photo credit: David Lewis

The DC area has a lot of theater companies, from large professional troupes to groups of friends staging theatre salons in parks and historic spaces. One Unexpected company — now in its thirteenth season — is putting on a rather insightful show in an interesting spot.

Unexpected Stage Company is presenting Fade, written by Tanya Saracho (How To Get Away With Murder, Looking) and directed by Dylan Arredondo (Parlor Games, Chushingura) in an intimate 30-seat venue inside the River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation building in Bethesda.

While the performance is in no way related to the religion, it is interesting to note that Unitarian Universalists’ first principle is the inherent worth and dignity of every person… and Fade is primarily a study of culture, ambition, and whether a change in status can change who you are at your core.

The basics of the plot are simple: Lucia (Camila Calderón) has landed a TV writing job while she waits for inspiration for her second major novel. She is tense and apprehensive, not only because the studio atmosphere is cutthroat, but because her division is white male-dominated and she’s struggling to prove herself as what she’s been told is the “token Latina” hire. She connects with the only other Latin employee she interacts with, a janitor named Abel (Michael Burgos). Culturally, they have much in common, but realistically, much separates them, and conflict arises when Abel’s life becomes a plot in Lucia’s TV script.

Camila Calderón as Lucia and Michael Burgos as Abel in Unexpected Stage Company’s Fade. Photo credit: David Lewis

Sharp, witty, sensitive, and yes — unexpected — Fade offers insights into race and class within the Mexican-American community. It forces audiences to consider goals, status, and intention, as well as boundaries of trust and friendship. And it explores a rare example of cultural appropriation from within.

In 90 minutes, with no intermission, audiences will feel a full range of emotions, likely sympathizing with each character’s struggles, and ultimately deciding for themselves whether Lucia did the smart thing.

Get out there and see something unexpected! This production of Unexpected Stage Company can be found at 6301 River Road, Bethesda. Tickets, priced $12.50 – $37.50, are available through November 13, 2022. An ASL-interpreted performance is offered on Saturday, November 5 at 2 pm. Discounts are available for students, seniors, military, first responders, and groups.