2008 OUR THEATRE...  OUR CULTURE... 2009



Mujeres al Poder
Kick-Butt Women
based on Lady Godiva by Jean Canolle

adapted and directed by Mario Marcel

Feb. 12 - Mar. 7, 2009

at Gunston Arts Center

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Bob Anthony, by Bob Anthony

DC Theatre Scene, by Rosalind Lacy

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

Washington Post, by Celia Wren

Bob Anthony
Drama and Dance

Not unlike the current take off of  the ugly sisters of "Cinderella" on Broadway, Teatro de la Luna does a very funny adaptation of the legendary story of Lady Godiva who challenges the tax-driven Count, her husband, to give tax relief to the citizens by galloping nude through the streets of Coventry....hm-m-m-m wonder if it would work as successfully regarding our current financial mess?  Of course, the funny subplot is that this pious wife, always accompanied by her priest confessor, has never allowed the king to see her naked which allows all types of sexual frustrations by the Count to be wailed throughout the castle and kingdom.  Peter Pereyra rightfully dominates the play as he wants to chop off the heads of his burghers for not generating more taxes as well as give double takes whenever the prospects of sex is forthcoming.  He along with Marcela Ferlito Walder as the spicy maid (full of bon mots) make a terrific pair of comedians.   The translation by David Bradley has a few slow spots but director Mario Marcel highlights the very funny transitions and he uplifts the others' performances to make it a solid comedic production.   Only a few things are missing...the simple set is still too elegant and the play would be better served with a cockeyed set;  the wonderful Gregorian chant of the confessor should have been a running gag throughout the play; and Mr. Peeping Tom might have added humor if in fact he went blind for sneaking a peek at the romping nude Lady Godiva.  Neverthess this is a wonderful family show particularly since, at times, it comes close to children's theater in style.  Others in the cast are Mario Alvarez, Willie Padin, Anabel Marcano, Alex Lopez-Montanez and Alex Alburqueque.  Again, although done in Spanish, there are wonderful surtitles of English translations.

DC Theatre Scene

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Kick-Butt Women (Mujeres al Poder)

Let’s hear it for acts of common sense and defiance that change history. The original Lady Godiva myth may not be based on an actual event. But let’s pretend, as the French playwright Jean Canolle did, that the myth really happened. Kick-Butt Women is an adaptation of Canolle’s mid-20th century play called Lady Godiva. The Spanish title, Mujeres al Poder, for the adaptation by Mario Marcel, means a special kind of power only women possess. That explains “Kick-Butt” for an 11th century woman who allegedly took off all her clothes, rode naked through the streets and started a renaissance.

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The Examiner

‘Kick-Butt Women’ a witty, thoughtful romp

ARLINGTON – Teatro de la Luna’s “Mujeres al Poder” (“Kick-Butt Women”) feels like commedia dell’arte at times, with a cast of characters that are almost caricatures. There is the crass, arrogant Count Leofric, governor of Coventry (Peter Pereyra); his beautiful wife, Lady Godiva (Anabel Marcano); the clever maid Guendolina (Marcela Ferlito Walder); three Burghers (Mario Álvarez, Willie Padín and Alex Alburqueque) and a chaplain (Alex López-Montañez).

Yet it doesn’t take long to establish that the subject of this marvelously rich, imaginative satire of medieval times is not the relationship between lecherous Leofric and his frosty wife, but is in fact about how myths are created and given longevity.

Adapted from Jean Canolle’s “Lady Godiva” by director Mario Marcel, “Kick-Butt Women” begins with Leofric — portrayed as a mean-spirited ninny by Pereyra — devising a scheme to allow him to see his wife naked. Lady Godiva, it seems, is totally devoted to her charities and has no time for her husband.

But after she assents to her husband’s challenge to ride naked through the town, she is transformed, and with a little help from her maid, she becomes a woman on a mission.

Marcano is delightful as the naïve Lady Godiva, whose horseback ride awakens her senses. One of the most important characters in this piece is Guendolina, Lady Godiva’s maid, as she is the one who shows Lady Godiva the way to becoming a living legend. Walder is powerful in this pivotal role as the one who knows how to make history.

Alburqueque is entertaining as the ladies’ tailor, Peeping Tom, the only person in town who looked at Lady Godiva as she rode. The groveling, self-serving Burghers are humorously portrayed by Álvarez and Padín. López-Montañez plays the chaplain as a pious, blinkered automaton.

Teatro de la Luna seems to be as much a family as it is a theater company, and the closeness of the actors shows in the tight-knit ensemble work on stage. Marcel directs with wit and intelligence, making this satirical “Kick-Butt Women” a breezy, thought-provoking romp.

Washington Post

'Mujeres': Godiva, All Dressed Up With Nowhere to Go

Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, February 25, 2009; Page C08

To dispense with the big question first: No, there is no onstage nudity in "Mujeres al Poder" ("Kick-Butt Women"), the riff on the Lady Godiva legend that's the latest offering from Arlington's Teatro de la Luna. Or to be more exact, there's no physical nudity: This intriguing if somewhat goofy-looking production does flaunt 2 1/2 hours of naked philosophizing, draped in only the gauziest of theatrical disguises.

In its U.S. premiere, "Mujeres al Poder" is Teatro de la Luna Artistic Director Mario Marcel's adaptation of "Lady Godiva," a satire by the French writer Jean Canolle (born in 1919). Published in a French-language theater journal in 1958 -- after the play's small-scale private debut in Paris -- the script loosely follows the traditional story of a medieval blueblood's in-the-buff heroics: When the tyrannous English noble Leofric (Peter Pereyra) sneers that he'll lower his subjects' taxes only if his virtuous wife Godiva (Anabel Marcano) rides a horse naked through the city of Coventry, she bravely takes him up on his offer.

As rendered by Marcel (who has staged Canolle's script previously in Argentina and Guatemala), the tale provides a framework for a witty, revisionist drama of ideas, reminiscent of George Bernard Shaw or Jean Anouilh's "Antigone." Godiva's equestrian outing upends her conservative views on society, spirituality and the universe. "I want roses around the doors of the convents!" she exclaims on her return. "We must curl the hair of the abbesses, lower the necklines of the nuns, shorten their flannel dresses... Why such austerity around God? Is God not in the sun? Is God not the sun itself?"

While the aristocrat revels in her "Aha!" moment, her canny maid Guendolina (an energetic Marcela Ferlito Walder) turns spinmeister, aiming to shape her mistress's current fame and future legacy -- a task that's complicated by the antics of Peeping Tom (Alex Albuquerque, radiating appropriate callowness), a local who has relished ogling the nude Godiva. As the characters banter, the play becomes a meditation on Puritanism, feminism, national identity, organized religion, the role of government and, above all, humanity's fondness for turning ragged historical reality into elegantly tailored myth.

Partly hampered by budget considerations, no doubt, Marcel's leisurely staging lacks the flair of the ingenious script. The actors' movements can be static, awkwardly underscoring the play's talkiness. And some farcical touches seem too broad: To illustrate Leofric's boorishness, for instance, Pereyra does some daft miming of flatulence and the like.

The medieval costumes, created by Rosita Becker, Cecile Heatley and the one-named Loona, look a little as if they've been pilfered from a high school's Renaissance fair. The attire particularly hampers Pereyra and Marcano, winning performers who add zest to so many Teatro de la Luna shows: It's hard to appreciate, or even detect, the pair's acting when the former wears a ludicrous puff-sleeved doublet and black fright wig, and the latter, initially, dons a dorky pale-blue bonnet and matching, flesh-enveloping dress.

The serviceable set surrounds Leofric's throne with suggestive contours of walls and towers. In a snazzy touch before the lights rise on the first scene, these architectural outlines radiate a blue neon glow, as if hinting at the play's themes of image-doctoring and celebrity. Who knew that the saga of Lady Godiva, disrobed icon of the Middle Ages, could be so relevant to the era of Facebook and Perez Hilton?

Mujeres al Poder (Kick-Butt Women), adapted by Mario Marcel from Jean Canolle's "Lady Godiva." Direction, set and sound design by Marcel; lighting design, Ayun Fedorcha. With Mario Álvarez, Willie Padín and Alex López-Montañez; 2 1/2 hours; in Spanish with English surtitles (translation by David Bradley). Through March 7 at Gunston Arts Center, Theater Two, 2700 S. Lang St., Arlington.

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