How to Avoid Falling in Love with the Wrong Man

Cabaret artist Graciela Rodriguez from Uruguay has a lot to say about the battle of the sexes. Why do women fall in love with men who are jerks, fools, idiots, and dorks and make them suffer?

Rodriguez is here to wise us up. This U.S. premiere of her solo show, Como Evitar Enamorarse del Hombre Equivocado, (How to Avoid Falling in Love with the Wrong Man), is directed by Jorge Denevi, who is giving us a theatrical adaptation of a how-to manual by Marcelo Puglia.

Graciella Rodriquez

Well-known on Latin American television, a consummate comedienne and winner of several prestigious Latino acting awards, Rodriguez doesn’t just tell us, she shows us the men to avoid. Her soft, sweeping beige dress, with fur-trimmed V-neck (costume designed by Nelson Mancebo) is clingy and classy, and serves her well through lightning-quick character changes. Rodriguez impersonates her way into short clips about dating, marriage, lovers, ex-husbands, loneliness in relationships and sex. Culottes hidden underneath help her switch genders.

Using male voice-overs, Rodriguez holds conversations with the men in her life—a husband or boyfriend, current or ex. “You never forget my birthday. You don’t drink or smoke. You’re perfect. Still, I’m still going to leave you,” she says to an imaginary hubby. Why is she dumping him? Because he’s a slob or swine, whatever he is that makes her want to kill him. 

Intimacy is a biggie for her. Primarily  

What makes this show worthwhile is that whatever Rodriguez does is magic, larger than life and funny. Her expressive face is fun to watch as she takes scatter-shots at edgy subjects in rapid fire patter. She is having a great time having a good heart-to-heart with women directly. She has that intuitive sense for working up an audience to laughter, or better yet, to applause.

She hits on a nerve. Being yourself in a world that pressures you to conform is a challenge. So Rodriguez is here to help.

Beware of the jerks who will make you suffer, she warns. When a man tells you, “You’re too good for me,” he’s a liar. The man who can’t see you because he’s got a meeting is married. The man who promises to call later, but never does and leaves you waiting, has a fear of intimacy and long-term commitment. Watch the eyes of the soccer fanatic when you try to talk intimately. If his pupils keep shifting to the side to watch the television screen, then you know you’re in trouble.

Speaking of soccer, the sport that is a national obsession in South America, some of the culture-specific material whooshed right over my head.

What Rodriguez is getting at is universal. Segments of her show remind me of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change by Joe DiPietro and Jimmy Roberts, a long running off-Broadway musical that closed in 2008. This is a return engagement for Rodriguez to  the Gunston Arts Center. She was here in 2006 when she defined herself as a café artist who says the Mass backward to make fun of anything sacred.

She has a following (as evidenced by the full-house last Saturday). Some may remember her performance of two cabaret shows at Teatro de la Luna in 2006 in the two-part series. How to Fill a Wild Bikini, (Como Rellenar un Bikini Salvaje), by Brazilian playwright, Miguel Falabella, about family relationships; followed by On the Loose, Hot and Dangerous by Uruguayan playwright Omar Varela, that took aim at anything topical and sacred.

Teatro de la Luna’s production of How to Avoid Falling in Love… has 3 more performances thru March 12, 2011 at Gunston Arts Center, 2700 South Lang St, Arlington, VA.
Details here.
Buy tickets.

From Uruguay with Laughter: How to Avoid Falling in Love with the Wrong Man

By Marcelo Puglia
Adapted and directed by Jorge Denevi
Produced by Teatro de la Luna
Reviewed by Rosalind Lacy

In Spanish with live English dubbing by English translator Marcela Ferlito.

Recommended
Running Time: One hour and 15 minutes. No intermission.

How to Avoid Falling in Love with the Wrong Man is the first play in a two-part festival of Uruguayan talent, From Uruguay with Laughter.  Next up from Uruguay are three comedians, :Petru Valenski, Danilo Mazzo and Fabian Silva, in A3Vidos (Atrevidos) (The 3 Rascals), from March 17 to 26.

 

Other reviews

Celia Wren . Washington Post
David Siegel . Alexandria Gazette
Barbara MacKay . Washington Examiner

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