ON THE LOOSE, HOT AND DANGEROUS
Produced by Teatro de la Luna
Suelta, Ardiente y Peligrosa, A revue in a style that has Uruguayan identity.
Reviewed by Rosalind Lacy
The spirit of fierce resistance to domination comes through. What better way to express individuality than Cabaret Theater or what is hailed at Teatro De La Luna’s Celebration of Hispanic Theater as Uruguayan cabaret. .
On the Loose, Hot and Dangerous (Suelta, Ardiente Y Peligrosa), written and directed by Omar Varela, at the Gunston Arts Center is a wild farce. Wildly creative because of its audience interaction. It’s pure improvisation with a script of prepared questions. Each performance is different with different audiences. But the topical satire is somewhat similar to what’s seen at Chicago’s Second City. The Gunston stage is adapted to suggest a night club with a front row of tables and chairs to invite us into the act.
Once again as with How To Fill A Wild Bikini, the first in this festival, Graciela Rodriguez proves herself to be an amazing character actress/comedian. Cabaret theater turns the world upside down without firing a shot. A free society resists tyranny without a violent revolution. Café style theater is like saying the Mass backwards to make fun of anything sacred. And it’s fun.
As we walk into the theater, we are advised to wear our earphones so we can immediately hear the simultaneous translation. Rodriguez, in bright red haired wig, is the lecturer, who worships Aloe Vera, the show’s sponsor for a talk-tv show. To be in the moment is important. Last Friday night, it rains. So Rodriguez uses the rain as an excuse for the late arrivers and asks all of us, to join in singing a “hymn for Aloe Vera, for a better life.” Through hard work and abandonment of her husband, child and “my church,” our hostess tells us she has sold enough of this product to win travel tickets and a free set of china. Then she interviews several women in the audience, asking them how they can use Aloe Vera. Shampoo and hand cream are suggested.
Enter Fernando Larrosa, the straight man, in white dress and pig tails, to warn us of the craziness to follow. Each time Rodriguez exits, she quick changes into a different costume or wig, re-enters with a different walk and voice. This actress is so versatile, each entrance seems like a new actor walks on stage. The suspense builds: Who’s next? The eccentric, old woman, Marta, in a fur coat, who crawls over audience members and interacts, especially with younger men, is memorable. She never finds a seat but Marta advises the men to take Aloe Vera instead of vinegar, that is, Viagra. Then there’s the faith healer on a mission who shares her positive vibes.
But when Rodriguez becomes a male character, we ask: what will he do? The waiter in black bow tie and suit, black wig on the make, mixes in some bawdy humor, played against Fernando’s innocent young virgin character. Both are stereotypes presented in good taste.
No one is spared ridicule. The patter flows so fast even the translator can’t keep up, Rodriguez jokes. Granted there may be confusing moments, character names not made clear through translation and special insider jokes only Uruguayans understand. But some characters are universal, such as the opinionated, old battle ax or the egocentric television personalities, who try to resolve unhappy love lives. And topics on political leadership can cross the cultural divide: “Put the president in a plane and say bye-bye.” Does she mean the president of Uruguay or our own? Well, we don’t need to make that clear. With Rodriguez, a costume change is worth a thousand names
One of the high points takes place when the game show host, Rodriguez in a platinum blond wig, picks contestants randomly to play charades.
But there’s a wonderful punch line to the entire charade. When the actor Fernando, who’s as energetic as Rodriguez, becomes Tito, there is an ironic twist at the end.
What’s earth-shaking about this one act? Previous performing artists from Uruguay, who have appeared at Teatro De La Luna’s International Festivals, brought us the serious side of theater from Uruguay. A country caught between Argentina and Brazil, Uruguay has a history of struggle for independence.
In the past, one act plays and monologues pit the prisoner against authority (2003, The Informant); or the jobless, young man, struggling to find meaning in a repressive society (The Executor, At Night in Front of the Forests 2002), or a woman is unjustly imprisoned because of circumstantial evidence (Women in the Closet, 2001). But more recently, with the arrival of Uruguayan cabaret, we are exposed to a Latin American country that enjoys relative freedom to express controversial themes on stage. Another way to resist tyranny without a violent revolution.
On the Loose, Hot and Dangerous (Suelta, Ardiente Y Peligrosa continues this weekend at the Gunston Arts Center, Theatre Two, 2700 S. Lang St., Arlington, VA, Thurs. 11/2, Fri. 11/3, 8 p.m.; Sat. 11/4, 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets: Thurs. and Sat. matinee, $25. Evening performances, $30. $5 off for seniors and students. 10% discount for 10 or more. Live English dubbing through easy-to-use headsets. Free parking available. Friday, post-show discussion.