2007 OUR FRIENDS... OLD AND NEW... 2008



Volvió una Noche
She Returned One Night
by Eduardo Rovner (Argentina)

directed by Mario Marcel (Argentina)

May 8 - 31, 2008

at Gunston Arts Center

Theatre 2

In Spanish with English Surtitles

Area Première    -    Ages: 13+

A promising youth who could be a surgeon or concert violinist is a pedicurist and member of a tango quartet.  His dead mother, whom only he can see and hear, is determined he live up to his promises. Love and Laughter, two potent allies, hasten the inevitable!


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Press Reviews

Press Reviews

Bob Anthony, by Bob Anthony

DC Theatre Scene, by Rosalind Lacy

Potomac Stages, by Brad Hathaway

The Examiner, by Barbara Mackay (Special to The Examiner)

Sun Gazette, by Matt Reville (Staff Writer)

Washington Post, by Celia Wren

Bob Anthony
Drama and Dance

Nucky Walder and Peter Pereyra are well on their way to becoming a first class comedy team as confirmed by their second mother/son acting chore...this time in "She Returned One Night" (To5/31) at the Teatro de la Luna at Gunston. This time she is a returned-from-the-grave hispanic Jewish mother who wants to give her approval for her son's soon-to-be wife after she has browbeaten him for years of batchelorhood. It is a romantic farce all the way and director Mario Marcel has filled the stage with fast and effective comedy routines that makes it a riotous evening of entertainment with a most tender ending. Peter Pereyra has exceptional comedy technique especially in his "drunken" scene where he bamboozles his two friends, Alex Alburqueque and Gerald Montoya, with a fake ghost scene and these two actors are wonderful foils. Wonderfully expressive Nucky Walder again presents an expected top rate performance. Gerald Montoya also does a wonderful confused supposed-patient who must go through wild undressing for just a bum toe? Anabel Marcano is the oversexed kitten who can't wait for the wedding ring but quickly burns and turns when she suspects another woman in the picture. Sweet-in-person offstage Marcela Ferlito plays the archangel who is the deus ex machina to correct the bad earth situations with sometimes militaristic aplomb. Alex Lopez-Montanez and Cythia Urrunaga play fine graveyard buddies. Ayun Fedorcha does her usually fine lighting on a well built bachelor apartment set design by Mario Marcel. Again Teatro de la Luna comes through with an exceptionally fine family play that keeps the audience still laughing as they leave the theater. (Reviewed by Bob Anthony)

DC Theatre Scene

Washington’s Liveliest Theatre Website

Volvió una Noche, She Returned One Night

One reason I love to see plays at Washington D.C.’s Hispanic theaters is that I emerge renewed, as if I’ve traveled through a parallel universe. Meet Eduardo Rovner, a multi-prize-winning Argentine playwright, whose 35 plays have been translated into many languages and produced internationally. Thanks to Teatro de la Luna’s artistic director Mario Marcel we can experience the delicate balance between the real and the magical world of one of Rovner’s wonderful farces. Marcel’s passion for drawing out the best in his inspired and gifted performers has more than succeeded in bringing this comedy about a mother-son relationship to life. She Returned One Night is so believable you’ll laugh your heart out and be filled with wonder.

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Potomac Stages

For theatergoers fluent in Spanish, here's a bright, fun and genuinely funny comedy that washes over you in laughs. For non-Spanish speaking theatergoers, watching the play in Spanish while reading the English surtitles is a bit more work. In this case, however, that work is rewarded handsomely. This is particularly noteworthy for a comedy as humor can often be the victim of the concentration on surtitles and the lack of control the performers have over the timing of their lines reaching your funny bone. No such problem this night. The laughs which resound from those who are sitting in the first four rows where the surtitles aren't quite as visible are echoed just as strongly along the rear two rows marked for those who want a clear view of the surtitle screen. Sure its predictable. Sure its formulaic. Sure its silly. But it works because such a formula for silliness works when done well and here it is done well.

Storyline: Manuel visits his mother's grave frequently to report on his life. He can't see her, but she hangs on his every word. When he says he's being married the next day, she returns from the grave to check on her offspring and finds, to her horror, that he may have been stretching the truth a bit in his graveside reports of his successes. Her son is the only one who can see or hear her, resulting in complications on the eve of his marriage. Throw in an Archangel (complete with wings) and you have a diverting comedy.

Eduardo Rovner is an Argentinean playwright who ran his own theater in Buenos Aires until this play became enough of a hit to encourage him to take up playwriting full time. It won the Casas de Américas award for best Latin American Play in 1991 and went on to success not just in Argentina but in Uruguay, Brazil and Paraguay as well as getting solid productions outside of Latin America (Finland, Israel and now the United States). Its success is in part understandable because, while it has some verbal comedy with apparently witty turns of phrase, its basic humor is plot driven and the story is clearly told in a physical way - there are plenty of opportunities for solid physical actions and big, bold reactions, while the characters are easily kept straight as the plot unfolds. This reviewer is not fluent in Spanish and, thus, can’t attest to the accuracy or quality of David Bradley’s translation. However, the text as displayed, is both easily readable and apparently full – it shows no sign of being simple encapsulations or short summaries of longer speeches.

The script calls for energy and that is precisely what it gets from Mario Marcel’s staging, at least in the performances of the two leads: Peter Pereyra as Manuel and the very funny Nucky Walder as his confused but determined late mother. Each is very good on his/her own, and there is a comic chemistry between them that acts to multiply the fun for their joint scenes. Anabel Marcano lifts the energy level a notch higher as Manuel’s intended bride.

The set consists primarily of a relatively typical apartment with a bedroom with doors leading to a bathroom and closet on one side, a living room/dining room on the other with an area to the side for the graveyard scenes. It is wide enough to provide the players with plenty of space in each area so that their interaction is clear without being cramped. The costumes serve their functions well, especially the white robe and wings of Marcela Ferlito’s Archangel.

Written by Eduardo Rovner. Translated by David Bradley. Directed by Mario Marcel. Design: Mario Marcel (set and sound) Cecile Heatley, Loona ,and Rosita Becker (costumes) Cecile Heatley, Loona, and Nucky Walder (properties) Ayun Fedorcha (lights) Raymond Gniewek (photography). Cast: Alex Alburqueque, Marcela Ferlito, Alex López-Montañez, Anabel Marcano, Gerald Montoya, Peter Pereyra, Cynthia Urrunaga, Nucky Walder.

The Examiner

Enjoy Teatro de la Luna’s spirited ‘Night’

Argentinean playwright Eduardo Rovner’s “She Returned One Night,” playing at the Teatro de la Luna, is a delectable piece of magical realism designed to surprise and delight.

The play begins with an unkempt young man named Manuel at the graveside of his dear departed mother, Fanny, telling her of the recent events in his life. As soon as he includes the fact of his upcoming wedding, Fanny is propelled out of the grave and back into her son’s life.

Fanny, who is controlling, judgmental and visible only to her son, disrupts Manuel’s life in every way imaginable. She appears to him when his friends are around and they begin to think he is crazy, as he seems to be talking to the air when she is nearby. Worst of all, Fanny, who is Jewish and traditional, disapproves of Manuel’s girlfriend, who is Catholic and quite uninhibited.

The running joke gets progressively complex until more ghosts arrive on the scene to spirit Fanny back to the grave so Manuel can get on with living. Under Mario Marcel’s crisp direction, the actors in this production work as a well-balanced ensemble.
Peter Pereyra is delightful as Manuel, who becomes embroiled in a massive web of lies and is driven to distraction trying to keep his mother separated from his friends. He easily makes credible both sides of his character – the independent young man and the loving son.

Nucky Walder is hilarious as Manuel’s fussy mother. Even at her most impossible, there is something adorable in Fanny’s frazzled, perpetual motion. Fanny is surrounded by an amusing circle of departed friends, played with panache by Alex Lopez-Montanez, Cynthia Urrunaga, Alex Alburqueque and Macela Ferlito.

Alburqueque and Gerald Montoya are humorous as Manuel’s confused friends, and Anabel Marcano displays a marvelous combination of patience and frustration as Manuel’s girlfriend.
Although Rovner’s script runs just a bit too long to sustain its single joke, Marcel and his actors have handled the play deftly and delicately, turning it into an entertaining, theatrical soufflé.

Sun Gazette

Teatro de la Luna Scores With Riotous Tale of the Dead

“Laugh-out-loud funny” isn't a phrase that should be thrown about with abandon on the local theater scene.

But it applies to Teatro de la Luna's season-ending production of “Volvió una Noche” (“She Returned One Night”), the local premiere of a work by playwright Eduardo Rovner of Argentina.

The story line could be universal: a mother (in this case, a protective Jewish mama from South America) learns from the grave that her only son, the doctor, is getting married, and returns to his life in order to make sure everything goes well.

Of course, everything most assuredly does not go well - where would the comedy be in that? - in large part because the son hasn't exactly been truthful when he makes his frequent visits to her grave to update her on events.

Mayhem breaks out: Only the son can see and hear his mother, and those around him begin to question his sanity as the situation starts to unravel.

The three leads are Teatro veterans: Peter Pereyra as Manny, the son; Nucky Walder as Fanny, his mother; and Anabel Marcano as Dolly, his fiancée. I worried whether these familiar faces (Pereyra and Marcano were cast together as leads in the troupe's biopic of Frida Kahlo) would take away some of the freshness of the show, but I needn't have been concerned.

The script is clever from start to finish, with plenty of farce and physical comedy - including my favorite kind, semi-clothed physical comedy! - and, perhaps a little too obviously, an ending that sends everyone out of the theater feeling all warm and happy.

Pereyra and Marcano are quite good, but it is Walder who makes the show her own, with abounding energy and comic timing.

In fact, everyone in the cast of eight performs well. To pick out a few supporting performers, Gerald Montoya and Alex Albuqueque are hoots as Manny's friends, who have been let in on the little secret of his mother's return, and Marcela Ferlito has a ball as an angel, sent to help Fanny make sure everything turns out all right.

(How a Christian archangel ended up helping those in a Jewish cemetery is part of the entertaining story line.)

An interesting side show is Rovner's depiction of what goes on at cemeteries when the living aren't looking; apparently, all the post-mortem pals are having plenty of fun. Good for them.

Director Mario Marcel's pacing is strong, and his handling of the physical situations is deft.

One “tsk-tsk”: A recent Saturday matinee started 15 minutes late, in order to accommodate a large number of stragglers who filtered into the theater on their own schedule. Why those of us who arrived on time - ahead of time, actually - should have been penalized for the latecomers escapes me.

That quibble aside, this was a very solid outing from the Teatro team, rounding out what has been an interesting and generally successful season.

The production is in Spanish, with English surtitles projected above the stage.

Washington Post

Argentine's Comic Tango Too Often Drags Its Feet

Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, May 14, 2008; Page C08

The machinery of farce churns determinedly but none too fast in Teatro de la Luna's "Volvió una Noche (She Returned One Night)." Written by Argentine dramatist Eduardo Rovner -- and performed in Spanish with English surtitles -- this occasionally inspired, lightweight entertainment provoked gales of laughter from audiences at one opening-weekend performance. Still, as directed by Mario Marcel, the production lacks the quicksilver pacing that might allow it to transcend its plug-in-the-variables comic plotline.

That plotline, somewhat akin to "Blithe Spirit's," centers on an amiable young fellow named Manuel (Peter Pereyra), a pedicurist who has a regular gig as the violinist for a tango quartet. But in frequent chatty visits to the grave of his mother, Fanny (Nucky Walder), he has billed himself as a surgeon who moonlights as a classical musician. In case that weren't deception enough, he has given the deceased but still very lively Fanny -- who raised him in the Jewish tradition -- the impression that his fiancee, Dolly (Anabel Marcano), is of the same faith. In fact, she is Catholic.

When a supernatural maneuver allows Fanny to visit Manuel's bachelor pad, his fibs and her presence lead to predictably ridiculous situations: concealments in the bathroom; a ruse involving a damaged toenail; a flap involving knishes; and so on. It all feels a little boilerplate -- with the exception of the funny cameos by an energetic archangel (Marcela Ferlito), who's somehow involved in the metaphysical kerfuffle. Arriving among the sociable Jewish dead folks in the cemetery, she hands out her business cards, and, on learning that she's not dealing with Christians, as she'd expected, sighs, "This globalization has me totally confused."

As they have demonstrated in other Teatro de la Luna productions, Pereyra and Marcano are engaging performers blessed with fine comic timing, and they're able to infuse zing into certain sequences -- Manuel's double take when his mother materializes from a closet, for instance. Brandishing her sword and striking mock heroic poses, Ferlito is droll as the Archangel Lito, a sandaled, helmeted figure who looks as if she'd just stepped out of an ancient Greek phalanx. (The costume designers are Cecile Heatley, Rosita Becker and a one-namer, Loona.)

Wearing an old-fogy dress with a high lace collar, Walder's Fanny putters about Manuel's home with convincing maternal crotchetiness (Marcel designed the cluttered bourgeois set, with its menorah stowed away on a cabinet), but some of her scenes feel a shade more sluggish than they should. The show's poise and pacing really falter, and its air of professionalism dips, with the entrance of the play's other figures, including Manuel's pals Aníbal (Alex Alburqueque) and Julio (Gerald Montoya) and Fanny's fellow dead people (including Cynthia Urrunaga and Alex López-Montañez). These minor characters have little stage time, but what with their plodding input and the script's run-of-the-mill farcical complications, it's a relief when Fanny heads back to the afterlife.

Volvió una Noche (She Returned One Night) by Eduardo Rovner. Direction and set and sound design by Mario Marcel; lighting, Ayun Fedorcha. About 2 hours and 20 minutes. In Spanish with English surtitles.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company










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