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Review: Corazon De Manzana (Mortar Theatre)

By Chicagotheaterbeat @chitheaterbeat


Review: Corazon de Manzana (Mortar Theatre)

Corazon de Manzana

Written by Dana Lynn Formby
Directed by Jason Boat  
at DCA Storefront Theatre, 66 E. Randolph (map)
thru Sept 25  |   tickets: $15-$20   |  more info

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Exposing the horrors of femicide, one vignette at a time


Review: Corazon de Manzana (Mortar Theatre)

Mortar Theatre presents


Corazon de Manzana

Review by Dan Jakes

Among the many powerful and surreal images in Dana Lynn Formby’s new play, there’s a familiar one that director Jason Boat puts to especially good use: Google. Having just witnessed her niece (Morgan McNaught) unwrap a sexually mutilated gift doll from its original packaging, a Women’s Studies professor (Yadira Correa) takes to the internet for answers. Via video projection, she jumps from one search result to the next, slowly discovering a possible connection between the toy and the mysterious ongoing murders of hundreds or thousands of young women along the U.S-Mexico border. An eerie proceeding Google Earth flight to Juárez ends with a first-person Street View shot of a person meandering through the city. In the safe confines of her Utah home, the professor visits–virtually, at least–the victims’ resting place.

World aid by voyeurism.

The little time Jason Boat devotes to the internet is well spent, as it speaks to the heart of the United States’ and Canada’s problematic response (or non-response) to the femicide crisis at the center of Formby’s play. As the world has grown more and more connected since the killings began in 1993, public knowledge on the subject has stayed low, or at least conveniently and comfortably out of reach.

Mortar Theatre attempts to bring the issue out of the dark by connecting three mother-daughter relationships across North America that loosely relate to the disappearance of a child in Mexico. Individually, each narrative is compelling. In Juárez, young Mazi (Cruz Gonzales-Cadel) vanishes in a vivid, visually rich dream-like movement and video sequence, leaving her mother (Erica Cruz Hernandez) to plead with police for a search. Budding romance, physical insecurities, and privilege are explored between two students (Ethan Weiss and Katie Herbert, both giving strong performances as two intelligent kids too naïve to know their shortcomings) in Canada, and a janitor (Stephanie Stroud) and her sister (Correa) consider taking action for the Juárez victims in America. By the end, the fictional narrative pieces fit, but the non-fiction basis is unclear. Without a prerequisite knowledge of NAFTA and maquiladoras, it’s difficult to piece together an understanding of how each vignette’s theme ties into to femicide issue. Theatre doesn’t need to be didactic to convey an idea, and the subject Mortar Theatre showcases doesn’t have an easy solution, but with too many deviations and not enough of the basics, it’s hard to feel the impact the story and performances merit.


Rating: ★★½


Review: Corazon de Manzana (Mortar Theatre)

Mortar Theatre’s Corazon de Manzana continues through September 25th at the DCA Storefront Theater, 66 E. Randolph (map), with performances Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30pm and Sundays at 3pm. Tickets are $cost, and can be purchased by phone (312-742-8497) or online at More information here. (Running Time: 2 hours, which includes a 10-minute intermission)

All photos by John W. Sisson, Jr. 




Yadira Correa (Denise), Llyssa Fradin (Mom/Barbie), Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel (Mazi), Katie Herbert (Sara/Guendeline), Erica Cruz Hernandez (Abby/Maria), Morgan McNaught  (Ariana), Stephanie Stroud (Callie), Joshua Volkers (Ferdy), Ethan Weiss (Jake), Belinda Cervates (Shoelace Girls) 

behind the scenes

Jason Boat (director), Kristin Toerpe (Production Manager), Erin Hoban (Stage Manager), Mary Siegel (Assistant Stage Manager), Benjamin Brownson (Dramaturg), Robert S. Kuhn (Costume Design), Nick Rastenis (Set Design), Kent Cubbage (Lighting Design), Jeff Shields (Properties Design), Heath Hays (Sound Design), Michelle Underwood and Douglas Tyler (Projection Design), John W. Sisson, Jr. (photos)

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