Mixed Mensajes

Someplace between theatrical experiment and scientology lecture, the annoying El Juego Que Todos Jugamos, from Teatro Producciones Candilejas of Guatemala, demands immediate love and attention from the audience. Sounding the repetitive order of "cambio!" ("change!"), this work by Chilean playwright/filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky (of the shocking Santa Sangre) begins with pseudo-inspirational Saturday Night Live skits, (such as how a star's ego reflects public opinion) and ends with director and cast confronting the audience in mucho ado about nothing. Icky bits such as the call for caricias (caresses) -- both on-stage and off -- and confessions from the actors about how this inspiring piece changed their lives, did about as much for me as the sermons of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. When asked at the end to kiss the actors instead of applauding, all I could muster was a handshake -- and a fairly limp one at that.

The festival began on the strong point of Cuban playwright Julio Matas's world premiere, El Extravio/Deviations (reviewed last week); it continues with plays concerning women, followed by both a Brazilian and Russian group tackling Federico Garcia Lorca (to be discussed next week). In between, everything but the kitchen sink -- but not excluding kitchen sink drama -- showed up on-stage, proving that Latin theater, like any other type, has both high and low terrains.

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