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Mourning Becomes Electricidad

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If you live in LA, there's a good chance you've got a neighbor who acts. And if you have a neighbor who acts, there's a good chance you've been asked to come out to watch her act her way around a local stage. When we undertake those excursions, the outcome is never certain. Sometimes the experience is good. Sometimes it's about as enthralling as a root canal. But sometimes, if your neighbor happens to be Bertila Damas, and the play happens to be "Electricidad" by Luis Alfaro, the play goes off like a spectacular display of fireworks.

We caught "Electricidad" at the Mark Taper Forum last Sunday. Alfaro and director Lisa Peterson take Sophocles' "Electra," kick it into the 20th Century, imbue it with Chicano flavor, wrap it in the mythology of cholo culture and serve it on a bed of Spanglish. And you know what? It works. The ancient tale of mourning, revenge and tradition settles comfortably into its modern (spit-shined) shoes. The acting burden lies on the shoulders of Zilah Mendoza, who plays the title role. But Damas simply radiates as Clemencia (read: Clymenestra.) The scenes in which the two square off are...well, electrifying.

The play wraps up this weekend. The final show is on Sunday, May 15. Catch it before it's gone. And clap a extra loud when our neighbor takes her bow.