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Teatro de la Luna concludes its season with "Guachos/ Who am I anyway" with a stunningly skillful performance by Mario Marcel as Poyo...an illiterate street person living under a railroad bridge who is so wonderfully full of "wise saws and modern instances". And he so totally defines this robust character with continuing humor throughout this human comedy. Anabel Marcano as the only other character is necessarily tentative at the start of the show since Mr. Marcel has so captivated the audience but she blossoms wonderfully in the most poignant bridge scene when she confronts her adoption status which has left a void in her life. (30 thousand Argentinians disappeared and were killed during the military regimes with pregnant women allowed to have their babies and then were slaughtered so their waifs were put on the adoptive market to end up only God knows where). The play is so full of symbols (the train that keeps crossing over the bridge, etc.) and metaphors that is could easily have been called "Waiting for Gordo"...the buddy electrician who is trying to install electricity in the girl's new apartment. This play is highly recommended to enjoy the superior playing of Mario Marcel and the poignant messages of the very astute playwright, Carlos Pais, who lived through the bitter history of his native country. Technicals were all well developed especially the sound by Mario Marcel and the sensitive lighting by Ayun Fedorcha. Definitely a family show so make it an evening or matinee outing. (English surtitles for this one) (To 6/17) (Reviewed by Bob Anthony)
“Arlington Weekly News TV” CHANNEL 69
Broadcast (2006): Thurs., June 1, 6:00 p.m.; Sat., June 3,
10:30 a.m.; Mon., June 5, 8:30
TEATRO DE LA LUNA
“GUACHOS (Desclasados)/Who Am I Anyway?”
The U.S. premiere currently at Gunston Arts Center by
Teatro de la Luna—“Guachos (Desclasados)/ Who Am I Anyway?”---is
about two lost souls. One is an older street person, Poyo, played
warmly by Teatro’s artistic director Mario Marcel, and a young woman,
Patricia, portrayed by Anabel Marcano. We’re told that “guachos” is
Argentinean for orphans. This play by Argentinean Carlos Pais is set
against the terrorism of 40 years of military coups. In 1975, after
Juan Peron was overthrown by Gen. Jorge Videla, there were mass
killings and torture by the government and babies were taken from
their murdered mothers and sent elsewhere. So, this is the
background of Poyo and Patricia, two disparate people who together
are in search of their purpose and identities. I have to say that
there is a lot of humor in this play as the two nice characters
learn to rely on each other. Patricia is a writer and has a
wonderful source in Poyo. The banter and sweetness between the two
makes this “Guachos” another message and educational piece always
behind Teatro de la Luna’s works. Through June 17 on Thursdays and
Saturdays. Call 703-548-3092 for information and tickets.
Deep Meaning, But Fun Too,
in Argentinean Social Commentary
by MATT REVILLE (Staff Writer)
Teatro de la Luna serves up an engaging slice of everyday life with a deeper
meaning in its new production of “Guachos (Desclasados)” [“Who Am I Anyway?”].
And, with good pacing and a pair of very good actors, the show succeeds.
Written by Argentinean playwright Carlos Pais, the underlying theme of the show
works better if you know a bit about the unpleasant history of his country in
the 1970s. Without such an appreciation, though, the show works well as a study
in contrasts among the two characters.
Patricia is a young writer who has rented a not-terribly-upscale house in an
effort to get some peace and finish a novel (if indeed it is a novel . . .). But
the electricity doesn't work, and she seeks out Poyo, an illiterate tradesman
who lives under a bridge, to fix it for her.
Things don't quite work out the way they were intended, but in the interim, the
two characters bond with one another and find common ground amid their very
“Guacho” is slang in Argentina for “orphan,” and the concept comes into play in
both literal and figurative senses.
This 90-minute, seven-scene production is clever, funny, poignant and
affectionate. Though performed in Spanish, surtitles make it easily accessible
to English-speaking audiences.
Mario Marcel, who stars as Poyo and directs, again proves himself worthy of the
acclaim that has been heaped on him in recent years. His performance is smart
and convincing, and his direction is snappy.
Anabel Marcano, as Patricia, doesn't get the chance to have as much fun with her
role as Marcel does with his, but she is believable and earnest.
Unseen, until the cast takes its bows - and what a surprise - is Gordo (“Fatso”),
the electrical whiz who, ultimately and not without fits and starts, gets the
lights on. But because of the good writing, you'll feel you know the unseen
Gordo just as well as you know Poyo and Patricia.
All the technical aspects of the production were solid.
quibble: The seats at Gunston II are not so comfortable when there is a full
crowd, as there was at last Sunday's matinee. But that's a minor complaint - one
the theater troupes that use the space can't do anything about.
When you go to see this show, you have two options: Dig into the deeper meaning,
or just enjoy the ride. Either way, it's a treat.
Thursday, June 1, 2006; C04
By Nelson Pressley
'Guachos': Orphans in the Shadows
Illumination is often a good thing in a play, and in Carlos Pais's quirky Argentine work, "Guachos," it's the essential thing.
Patricia, a young freelance writer, has just moved into a shabby apartment. And she's in the dark. Enter the only other character in this 75-minute piece, which is staged more agreeably than not (although sometimes not) by Teatro de la Luna at the Gunston Arts Center's Theatre Two.
Patricia wants electricity now, and word is that there's a guy who lives under the bridge, he can wire up anyone, anywhere.
But this isn't the guy. This man, old enough to be her father, is Poyo, Poyo Mojado -- "Wet Chicken." (The Spanish spellings are from the English surtitles projected above the front rows; the performance is in Spanish.) That foolish name leads to funny stories delivered deadpan by actor-director Mario Marcel, whose shrugs and artless explanations add up to a character who seems to have virtually no ego.
Near-invisibility appears to be Pais's point, particularly as Poyo clucks on and on about his comic travails trying to obtain official documents regarding his identity. The program translates the title as "Who Am I, Anyway?" and also as "Orphans." Once you realize Patricia isn't so sure about her parentage, you begin to understand why she indulges the rambling, electrically incompetent Poyo as he leads her under the bridge, onto the bridge and back to her place, dominating the conversation at every step.
It's virtually a one-sided performance, so heavily does the script tilt toward Poyo. (You figure Patricia's going to get a story out of it, but it's hard to see how.) Marcel -- from Argentina himself -- wraps himself in hobo charm. His character is never remotely a threat, always soft-pedaled and slightly shrinking, shuffling idly on the gravel under the bridge, apprehensively climbing the stepladder to the bare bulb in her apartment. (Marcel also concocted the rudimentary sets.)
As the initially impatient Patricia, Anabel Marcano is often left to stand and listen with inexplicable blankness. Her character remains shapeless until near the end of the play, when Patricia blows up about the world's injustice and confides about the bleak book she's writing.
That is when Pais most directly invokes the desaparecidos , the thousands killed or "disappeared" in Argentina in the 1970s. The sketchy Patricia and the sidewinding play stand in the shadow of that history, which another playwright might have chosen to exhume in a second full act. Pais contents himself with this small, rather slight tale.
Everything is not illuminated, but at least the switching on of a single bulb signifies a way to move on.
Guachos, by Carlos Pais. English translation by John Paul Lennon. Directed by Mario Marcel. Lighting design, Ayun Fedorcha; costumes, Nucky Walder; sound design, Mario Marcel. About 75 minutes. Through June 17 at Gunston Arts Center Theatre Two, 2700 S. Lang St., Arlington.