by Catherine Filloux
Directed by José Zayas
La Mama: First Floor Theatre

Reviewed by David Spencer

In Catherine Filloux's Luz, Alexandra, a pro bono corporate lawyer (Kimber Riddle) fights for the rights of exploited women, while in a simultaneous storyline, public-relations man Oliver (Steven Rishard) works on behalf of big oil in the wake of a toxic spill. She deals with disenfranchised people; he spins the cause of disenfranchised animals. Their stories run parallel without intersecting—except for Haskins (Bobby Plasencia), the corporate lawyer at  Alexandra’s firm who is a touchpoint for them both—yet each digs deeper into his/her soul as the evening progresses.

               As social drama, the cases and characters of Luz (which is named for Alexandra’s most prominently featured client) are very familiar from legal shows created by the likes of David E. Kelley, going back to the days of The Defenders in the early 60s, and crusading writers like that one’s creator, Reginald Rose. As a structured script, telling a coherent story, it’s perfectly acceptable without being extraordinary; but somehow Ms. Filloux fails to ratchet up sufficient tension or outrage for the audience to experience, so while it’s never dull, it’s also rarely compelling. This mildness extends to the direction by José Zayas and also the casting. Everybody’s doing a tasteful, intelligent, respectable enough job—talent per se and appropriateness are not at all in question—but by and large the players constitute a low octane ensemble. There is some use of puppetry (representing, among other things, the swans who have been affected by the toxic spill) that seems as if it ought to be exciting and add a layer of magic realism, but even that comes off as a soft interlude.

               At least that’s how it seemed to me. But, Luz being a legal drama, some full disclosure: my significant other was far more taken with it than I. As to the general audience reaction? It too seemed to me low key, but it’s hard to draw a definitive conclusion; the applause may have only been moderately appreciative, but all through the intermissionless 85 minute play, it was rewarded with the quiet intensity of interested concentration. Mine included.

               Which is not the worst possible thing to have achieved…

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