"Mathematics of Love" takes place in the lobby of the Biltmore Hotel at the turn of this century in Los Angeles. The main character is "PEACHES", an aging and early-staged Alzheimer Mexican woman who, along with her Anglo husband, POPPA, is awaiting the arrival of their out-of-town son, "God." He is to throw an anniversary party for them the following day. In the interim, while they wait (the play takes place over one afternoon until dawn the next day), the couple's middle-aged DAUGHTER mediates between the opposing characters of her parents, while mourning the recent death of her beloved partner, Virginia. PEACHES reviews the major traumas of her life -- the betrayals from family members (as she perceives them) and an emotionally absent husband. She is pretty much stuck in the current biography of her life, until the character of MALINXE arrives to shed some light on PEACHES' past through a grander historical lens. (Malinche Tenepal was the Indigenous slave who was given to the Spanish Conquistador, Hernan Cortez upon his arrival in Mexico in 1519. She became his mistress, translator and tactical advisor and, although a slave, is historically considered a traitor to Indigenous Mexico.)
Through the character of MALINXE, (originally conceived by playwright, Ricardo Bracho, who contributed several scenes to "Mathematics") PEACHES is required to come to terms with a kind of collective guilt carried by Mexican women over five centuries of colonization. The theme of betrayal is especially salient and mirrored between the two women, as both their lives have been marked by "sleeping with the enemy." As the play time travels across those five hundred years, collapsing time and technology, PEACHES becomes a pre-teen Tohono O'odham servant to a 17th c. MALINXE. At times MALINXE, in Aztec regalia, can be seen e-dating on the hotel computer while PEACHES appears in a Californio Mission-style penitent outfit. Of course, "God" never arrives in the play; at least not in the form PEACHES had expected. Still, the play attempts to tell us a bit of how we calculate the gains and losses of love, not just in our individual lives, but the life of a people.
As MALINXE states:
" I could not presage the travesty that is Cancún, the Marriott and Hilton ascending like pyramids on the beaches de los Maya. I could not presage that one day the descendants of the Cholulans, the Tlaxcalans, the Mexicas would return en masse to Aztlán. Their bellies scraped raw, dragging their bodies like criminal reptiles across the border sands of Sonora. But there was a calling in me . . . that I suppressed, I admit. Or perhaps I misinterpreted. Perhaps I thought it was just the cry of a woman wanting freedom."
Theatrius Review From Brava Theater Center Production, Summer 2017