Friday, November 13, 2009

Una Historia de Amor

Performance Date:  11.01.09
at Teatro Trianon, Havana, Cuba

The second night of the Festival I saw Una Historia de Amor, a Colombian (or perhaps Cuban -- the festival materials are unclear) production about a man and woman breaking up.  It was hot.  And by hot, I mean there was no air-conditioning in the theater and it was a packed house.  Add patrons seated in chairs in the aisle, and by the end of the show, you’ve got suffocating claustrophobia.  Thank god the festival gave us fans in our goodie bags or I might have had to commit seppuku.

The unfairness of that scenario, from the actor’s perspective, is that no matter what you do on stage, a large portion of your audience is just trying to figure out when the hell they’re gonna get outta there.  And if you also have a non-representational set design featuring many props, then it’s a sure bet they are calculating the minutes until their escape based on the number of props left to use.  They still haven’t opened the second trunk or used the feather boa – oh my god and there’s still that drum kit - somebody give me air!  It’s horribly, horribly unfair.

So it’s a testament to the production that through the heat, not to mention the language barrier, I still will never forget the lead actress’s firecracker performance.  She had a magnetic pull that was undeniable – and it wasn’t just the fishnets and black vinyl bustier.  Playing a woman (a dancer?) confined to a wheelchair by a broken leg, she emanated an animalistic restlessness that I was grateful to grab onto.  An electric fury roiled beneath her cat-who-ate-the-canary grins, and her every desperate gesture of acting out was genuinely felt and filled.  I learned a lot about taking risks from this actress.  Taking risks and taking space.  That in itself made it worth it.

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