Although Sexo, Pudor Y Lágrimas (Sex, Shame and Tears) is a charming comedy. I found it a thoughtful meditation on sex and how it has, does and always will separate men and women. Beyond the differences genetically inherent to the genders, Sexo submits that despite ones anatomy, the inborn physical and emotional – or lack of – consciousness of the act will always keep us, to a large degree, emotionally alone. Written by Antonio Serrano, the play ran for two consecutive years in Mexico before being turned into a film that broke box office records in its homeland. It’s a stimulating piece of work.
The play, splendidly translated by David Bradley, is filled with epigrams and words of wisdom on the various dispositions held on sex. They were simultaneously amusing and thought-provoking. Carlos (Alfredo Sanchez) is an intellectual who is writing a book on his sexual sufferings and musings and is married to Ana (Yovinca Arredondo Justiniano), a sex kitten who is denied her nature and finds solace in a like-minded ex-boyfriend named Tomas (Alex Alburqueque) visiting from out of town. Both men offer wonderfully insightful and honest views on their opposing sentiments while Ana’s untamed sexual persuasion compared to her husband’s timidity was a considerate twist.
Next door lives Miguel (Juan Pablo Vacatello) and Andrea (Marcela Ferlito Walder) whose union is so too troubled by and with ones ever evolving struggle to understand, accept, be honest with and satisfied with the nature of sexuality – how it bonds you to another and is tied to your own emotional comfort level. Maria (Liliya Ilnistky), a previous girlfriend of Miguel, likewise shows up needing a place to stay and so ensues the drama eventually entangling both apartments together.
The multi-talented Mario Marcel combines his efforts as director, and set and sound designer with that of Gary Hauptman’s lighting design with Silvana Fierro, Nucky Walder, and Rosa Becker’s costumes and props – and they work to set a fine stage.
Teatro de la Luna is the sole Hispanic Theatre Company in Arlington and provides English surtitles or live English dubbing at mainstage productions and International Festivals for their non Spanish-speaking audience members. Their mission is to offer a source of quality theater from the Latin American perspective and I feel the choice of Sexo, Pudor y Lágrimas by director Mario Marcel was a spot on choice. Behind the abundantly witty dialogue resides the sad truth that not only are ‘Men from Mars and Women from Venus,’ but that each of us individually are in some way, shape or form a slave to or enslaved by our own sexuality.
Running Time: Two hours and 15 minutes, including one
Sexo, Pudor y Lágrimas plays through March 13, 2013 at the Gunston Arts Center – Theater Two – 2700 South Lang Street, in Arlington, VA. For tickets, call the box office at (703) 548-3092, or purchase them online.
Washington’s Liveliest Theatre Website
Sexo, Pudor y Lagrimas / Sex, Shame and Tears
The dysfunctional sex lives of six urban
dwellers living in Mexico City in the 90’s makes great
fodder for comedy in Sexo, Pudor y Làgrimas, the
newest production from Teatro de la Luna.
Translated in English as “Sex, Shame and
Tears”, the Mexican tragicomedy centers on the unhealthy
dynamics of two mismatched couples who live across from each
other in the same apartment building, and the game-changing
sequence of events that transpire when they each have
attractive houseguests crash on the same weekend.
Directed by Mario Marcel (formerly of the
GALA Hispanic Theatre), Teatro de la Luna’s production of
Sexo, Pudor y Lágrimas is a candid, hysterical, though
sometimes overbearing look at the on-going battle of the
“The new woman is a fountain of male
impotence, a cause for castration and divorce,” laments
Carlos (Alfredo Sanchez), who sits home and meditates all
day while his photographer girlfriend Ana (Yovinca
Arredondo) is out making bank.
An emotional relationship roller coaster ride
at Teatro de La Luna
Shakespeare wrote, "The course of true love never did
run smooth," he might well have been stating the central
theme of "Sexo, Pudor y Lagrimas" ("Sex, Shame and
Tears"), currently at Teatro de La Luna. Written by
Mexican dramatist Antonio Serrano, the play outlines the
lives of two couples who are friends.
Carlos (Alfredo Sanchez) is a writer/philosopher and a
student of New Age spirituality. He spends a lot of his
day doing yoga. His wife, Ana (Yovinca Arredondo
Justiniano), supports him begrudgingly and is bothered
by his lack of desire to enjoy the pleasures of the
flesh as she does.
Nearby lives another couple, Miguel (Juan Pablo
Vacatello), and his wife, Andrea (Marcela Ferlito Walder),
who experience their own kind of disharmony. Miguel has
strayed from the marriage, causing his wife much
Those problems would be enough to deal with in any plot,
but Serrano ups the ante and accentuates the couples'
marital stress by having two ex-lovers return. Tomas
(Alex Alburqueque) comes back from a long trip around
the world to visit Carlos and Ana, who just happens to
be his ex-girlfriend.
Maria (Liliya Ilnistky), a zoologist returning from
Africa, comes to visit Andrea and Miguel, who just
happens to be her ex-boyfriend.
Maria and Tomas need places to stay, so they are
welcomed, warmly by Miguel and Ana, not so warmly by
Andrea and Carlos. What could possibly go right?
fact, the set-up is a disaster, and the entire play is a
bedroom farce, with people moving from one apartment to
another, in and out of doors, in and out of lives.
Director Mario Marcel keeps the action moving swiftly,
following the partners' dizzy movements, giving the play
a sense of the unbalanced nature of Serrano's world.
ensemble is extremely talented and well-equipped to make
its rapid-fire comedic exchanges sizzle.
Marcel's set includes two modern spare apartments next
to each other in a high-rise building in an anonymous
city. Each has a door to a connecting hall. There is no
wall between the two apartments, and the action often
flows from one space into the other, increasing the
sense of the unnatural reality onstage.
the tension within each couple grows too great and all
the individuals have offended each other enough, they
break into a new pattern, with the women living together
in one apartment, boycotting the men who live in
another. Both groups are miserable. In the end, the
original couples go their own ways.
Although it is very clearly a comedy, "Sexo, Pudor y
Lagrimas" contains serious comments about love, which,
Serrano seems to be saying, simply cannot be predicted,
induced, outrun or controlled.
Teatro de la Luna performs
Pudor y Lagrimas (Sex, Shame and Tears)’
Would that all houseguests provided as much
entertainment value as Tomas, a character in Mexican
playwright Antonio Serrano’s “Sexo, Pudor y Lagrimas
(Sex, Shame and Tears).”
As amusingly channeled by actor Alex Alburqueque, in
Teatro de la Luna’s lively production of Serrano’s
comedy, Tomas comes across — initially — as a good-humored
clown. Arriving for an extended stay at a friend’s
apartment, he proceeds to caper balletically on the bed.
He engages in satirical banter while ironing. And, when
his friends organize a group meditation session, he sits
dutifully in a cross-legged position — but then pulls a
mock-solemn face, jabbing the air with splayed fingers,
as if he were a demented kung fu warrior. And yet, Tomas
turns out to harbor a dark streak of idealism — par for
the course in this screwball and cheerfully ribald but
rather philosophical piece.
A long-running hit in Mexico City, adapted into a
successful Mexican film, “Sexo, Pudor y Lagrimas” begins
with the ingredients of farce: two discontented married
couples who live in adjoining apartments. When Tomas
moves in with the introverted writer Carlos (Alfredo
Sanchez) and Carlos’s sexually voracious wife, Ana (Yovinca
Arredondo Justiniano), things start to get complicated.
When a houseguest also lands on the unhappy ménage next
door, things get really complicated — and battle is once
again joined in the age-old war of the sexes.
For the Teatro de la Luna production, performed in
Spanish with English subtitles, director Mario Marcel
has devised a simple set: mattresses, chairs, tables and
door frames, representing adjoining apartments, with a
vista of urban high-rises in the background. The set-up
is roomy enough for the characters’ antics — such as
Ana’s pole-dance-style shimmying, as she attempts to
lure Carlos to bed; or the capering conga line the
female characters form as they search for a bottle of
tequila. The conga line sequence takes place after the
characters, fed up with lust and romance, have turned
the apartments into celibate, gender-segregated, quasi-monastic
communities—with predictable frustration for all.
Arredondo brings engaging feistiness to the character of
Ana, first seen in tight lavender pants and a midriff-exposing
top. (Silvana Fierro, Nucky Walder and Rosa Becker
designed the costumes and props.) Marcela Ferlito Walder
manifests the simmering resentment and long-buried pain
inside Andrea, who lives next door to Carlos and Ana.
Juan Pablo Vacatello highlights the stuffiness of
Miguel, Andrea’s husband, and Liliya Ilnitsky displays
aplomb as Maria, a visiting zoologist.
Sanchez emphasizes the brooding awkwardness of Carlos,
who muses, at one point, “Nothing we encounter satisfies
us. Nothing we encounter is sufficient. It merely lasts
for a few moments and then leaves.” (David Bradley
translated the script into English for the supertitles.)
Carlos doesn’t have the monopoly on deep thinking in
this play: Other characters also speculate about the
meaning of life, the nature of intimacy, and the
dynamics of the male-female power struggle. If you’re in
the market for a thinking person’s sex comedy, “Sexo,
Pudor y Lagrimas” is certainly an option
Wren is a freelance writer.
Sexo, Pudor y Lagrimas (Sex, Shame and Tears)
by Antonio Serrano. Direction, set and
sound design by Mario Marcel; assistant directors,
Silvana Fierro and Marisol Flamenco; lighting design,
Gary Hauptman; backdrop art, OlivosARTstudio. In Spanish
with English surtitles. About two hours. Through March 9
at Gunston Arts Center: Theater Two, 2700 S. Lang St.,
Arlington. Call 703-548-3092 or visit