Mala Hierba OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Joan Marcus
  • Mala Hierba
  • NY TIMES

  • VARIETY

  • TM

  • TIME OUT

Opening Night:
July 28, 2014
Closing:
August 10, 2014

Theater: McGinn/Cazale Theater / 2162 Broadway, New York, NY, 10024

Synopsis: 

Liliana has a sparkle few can deny and no one can resist. The trophy wife of a border magnate living in Texas, she’s seemingly impeccable. But beneath that polished exterior lies a fierce determination to survive at any cost. When Liliana’s true desires break the surface, she’ll have to decide between the value of obligation versus the price of freedom.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Mala Hierba

    Tangled Romances, in Need of Some Pruning ‘Mala Hierba,’ a New Play by Tanya Saracho

    Charles Isherwood

    July 29, 2014: A steamy snippet of a telenovela is heating up the McGinn/Cazale Theater, where Mala Hierba, a new play by Tanya Saracho, opened on Monday night as part of the Second Stage Theater’s Uptown series. A crisis in the life of a young Mexican-American woman suffering under the thumb of a rich but brutal husband provides the juice in this sudsy but enjoyable drama. In her grand mansion in a southern Texas town, the beautiful Lili (Marta Milans) lives in uncertain splendor as the wife of Alberto, a “border magnate,” as the script vaguely describes her unseen husband. She’s the latest in a series, as Alberto’s 25-year-old daughter, Fabi (Ana Nogueira), repeatedly reminds her; although Fabi gushes that Lili is her favorite of Alberto’s wives, the implied taunt (later made explicit) is that she will certainly not be the last. The brittle, viper-tongued Fabi lives in Houston, where she spends her time enrolling in, and then dropping out of, college classes, while spending lots of Alberto’s money. She’s come south this weekend because Lili is giving a party for Alberto’s 55th birthday. But Fabi decides that Lili deserves a present, too. She casually announces that she’s invited Lili’s old friend Mari (Roberta Colindrez), whom she ran into in town, to the party.

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  • VARIETY REVIEW OF Mala Hierba

    Featuring Marta Milans as the trophy wife of a player in the drug trade, this smartly entertaining new play gets a riveting production at Second Stage Theater

    Marilyn Stasio

    July 28, 2014: Second Stage really knows how to show a girl a good time, the proof being its excellent track record of producing vital work by important women playwrights. Chalk up another win with Mala Hierba, a funny and frightening play that Chicago playwright and TV scribe Tanya Saracho (LookingGirls) has set in the household of a brutal player in the narcotics trade on the Tex / Mex border. In helmer Jerry Ruiz’s riveting production, the real drama takes place behind the scenes, in the private life of the tyrant’s gorgeous trophy wife and the women who either enable or threaten her precarious existence. Marta Milans, the Amazonian beauty on ABC’s recently axed Killer Women, gives the drug lord’s wife, Liliana, everything a trophy wife must have to survive — and then some. Besides the body of a goddess and the Scheherazade-like skill to contain her husband’s irrational rages, she also possesses the street cunning of a girl who came up from abject poverty and the strength to endure the punishing brutality of the monster she married. (Leather belts figure in his sadistic version of sexual foreplay.)

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  • THEATERMANIA REVIEW OF Mala Hierba

    Tanya Saracho's moral brainteaser, inspired by Latin-American culture, makes its New York debut with Second Stage Theatre's uptown series

    Hayley Levitt

    July 28, 2014: Destructive demons assume some of the most seductive disguises in Tanya Saracho's Mala Hierba, now running at Second Stage Theatre's uptown space at the McGinn/Cazale Theatre. The title is borrowed from the Mexican colloquialism "Mala hierba nunca muere," roughly translated to English as "A bad seed never dies." This insidious plant serves as an image of both strength and suffocation throughout Saracho's compelling character study, which pits human yearnings against the power of culturally predetermined obligations. Marta Milans commandingly embodies this "bad seed" (a title unflatteringly bestowed upon her) as Saracho's glamorous leading lady Liliana, a Mexican trophy wife to the wealthy Alberto. Although Alberto never graces the stage, Jerry Ruiz's sharp direction plants an ever-present fear of his impending arrival, for his abuse (typically of a sexual nature) is a regular occurrence in their luxurious Texas household (represented by set designer Raul Abrego's Aztec-inspired bedroom layout, where the majority of the action takes place).

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  • TIME OUT NEW YORK REVIEW OF Mala Hierba

    Tanya Saracho, who has written for HBO's Looking and Girls, offers a portrait of a Texas trophy wife on the Mexican border

    David Cote

    July 28, 2014: Some trophies lie in dusty neglect under shoes and coats; others are obsessively polished and displayed by vain owners. Latina replacement bride Liliana (Marta Milans) gets both treatments in Mala Hierba. She’s expected to look sexy and glamorous at all times, even as her wealthy brute of a husband treats her like garbage. Tanya Saracho’s satirical dramedy tracks this conflicted Texan socialite over two weeks as she is torn between her heart and her credit limit. It’s a tough call when bedroom-eyed Maritza (ice-chill Roberta Colindrez), a flame from Liliana’s past, reignites at a party. Soon she’s shacking up with this Chicago-based feminist artist, praying that her horribly spoiled stepdaughter, Fabiola (Ana Nogueria, splendidly vulgar), doesn’t rat her out.

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