Theater Review: A Skeptic and a Bruja

photo by Dylan Jon Wade Cox
photo by Dylan Jon Wade Cox
Dennis "Mitch" Maley
On Friday, Urbanite Theatre hosted the world premiere of Rosa Fernandez's A Skeptic and a Bruja, a wildly inventive and highly entertaining production that raises the bar for the oft-ignored genre of horror story plays.

The play was awarded runner-up in Urbanite's annual Modern Works Festival and was so impressive in doing so that it was the first winning selection to receive a full production at the black box theater in downtown Sarasota.

The play is entirely set in the living room of a historic bed and breakfast that Priscilla purchases, hoping to restore it into a profitable business venture after relocating from California in the wake of her partner's death. When supernatural events impede her progress, Priscilla calls on Sam and Jess, hosts of a popular ghost-hunting show on YouTube called A Skeptic and a Bruja.

Lorinda Hawkins Smith gives a warm and engaging performance as Priscilla with a subtle yet powerful emoting of grief hanging over each scene. Alisha Espinosa adds flare to the production as Jess, the bruja (witch or sorceress) who's been saddled with the family gift of being able to commune with the spirits of the dead, who rarely give her a moment's peace.

Mercedes White gives a solid turn as Sam, Jess's cohost and sidekick, the skeptic of the duo, and their chemistry is a critical element of the play's success. Jen Diaz gives a strong performance as Remy, Jess's cousin and a last-minute addition to the trip. Remy's character does a very effective job of adding levity to the story through comedic gaffs, all of which land.

As usual, the production team does a magnificent job of creatively utilizing Urbanite's small black box space in an impressively detailed set that would not be out of place in a much larger venue. 

A Skeptic and a Bruja is the kind of production that should be sending first-time theatergoers (particularly younger audiences) to Urbanite in droves. Urbanite co-artistic directors Brendan Ragan and Summer Dawn Wallace should be credited with bringing to life a production so apt for appealing to new audiences.

Directed by Patrice Amon, A Skeptic and a Bruja runs through May 1. Visit the Urbanite website for schedule and ticket information.

Reader Comments
MAY 20, 2022  •  Saw tonight at Freefall. These performers were AMAZING! Honestly, did not expect much and was blown away with the emotions, authenticity, and sheer terror of the show. Totally outstanding! Thank you for a wonderful evening!
Scott Woodworth
APR 06, 2022  •  sounds like this could be really interesting. thanks for the suggestion. i need to support local theatre more.