THE UNTRANSLATABLE SECRETS OF NIKKI CORONA by Carol Kaufman Segal
Jose Rivera’s play, The Untranslatable Secrets of Nikki Corona, is largely about the afterlife, a mysterious subject, to say the least, playing at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles.
Abril leaves her sister Nikki (both roles played by Onahoua Rodriguez) a phone message before jumping to her death from the Golden State Bridge. Nikki is beyond grief over missing her sister’s call and decides to look for help by going to the office of A Better Orpheus that offers a rather bizarre service, a way of communicating with the dead. This is accomplished by putting a client in touch with a dying person who is willing to make contact and deliver a message once they reach the beyond. Nikki has doubts about this whole practice but, nevertheless, is impelled to go through with it
Maren (Cate Scott Campbell), owner of A Better Orpheus, sends Nikki to meet Orlando (Ricardo Chavira) in a hospital room where he is dying of cancer. Orlando is a good looking young man, but she rejects his advances towards her even though she feels sorry for his dilemma. I found this a strange situation in the play, quite bizarre, and out-of-place.
Act II opens with Orlando having died, and from that moment on, my interest in the play becomes lost as it is “much ado about nothing.” It seems that Orlando forgets about his obligation to Nikki. In fact, the whole idea seems completely forgotten for most of the act, while she seems no longer a part of the play at all as he wanders around the land of the dead meeting up with his own relatives accompanied by Lisandra (Cate Scott Campbell).
The play also includes Zilah Mendoza, and Juan Francisco Villa performing various characters throughout the second act, all under the direction of Jo Bonney.
The Untranslatable Secrets of Nikki Corona plays Tuesdays through Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 3 PM and 8 PM, Sundays at 2 PM and 7 PM, through October 7, at the Gil Cates Theater at the Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Avenue, Los Angeles. Tickets are available by phone at (310) 20-5454, or online at www.geffenplayhouse.org.