- Women of 50 (Mujeres de 50)
- By Daniela Di Segni and Hilda Levy
- Directed by Liliana Pecora
- Produced by Teatro De La Luna – International Hispanic Festival
- Reviewed by Rosalind Lacy
Argentine actress Liliana Pecora is the Sarah Bernhardt of comic actresses. Pecora doesn’t speak English at all, she told us on opening night. That’s like Bernhardt who never spoke or understood English and was featured as the leading character in last week’s play. Also as versatile as Bernhardt, Pecora brought a full-house to its feet for her depiction of eight female characters.
Her characters are grotesque caricatures of the funny things women do to battle the abdominal bulge or to stave off hot flashes, all to survive in a social setting. Especially before attending an ego-threatening 33rd year high school reunion that raises painful questions like: Will we recognize each other? Will my age show? Does it matter that I’m divorced four times? After chatting with a man on the Internet, what’s a first date like? Is all that crash dieting really worth the effort to get a man? Is this journey a mission impossible?
Sound like a re-run of adolescence? Well, maybe the women in Women of 50 are in a mid life crisis of middle-aged adolescence. Not quite 50, only age 49, Liliana suffers “an attack of wrinkles” in the morning because she looks in a mirror. Lights dim and she transforms into another life form: in a hilarious take-off of a ballerina dancing The Swan. Yes, Pecora’s got it right. The body may betray us but in our mind we’re still age twenty. This sequence sets us up later for one of the best laugh lines and truisms in the play: “I have no wrinkles and blotches. They only appear when I put on my glasses.” Age is in the mind of whoever is looking in the mirror.
This satiric 85 minute one-act is written by Daniela Di Segni, and a woman who knows what self-esteem is all about, Hilda Levy, a psychologist specializing in feminine problems. The piece is adapted by Susana Nova. and Pecora herself, who is also the director. A triple-talent threat, Pecora most recently in 2006, was nominated for Best Actress by the FLORENCIO, an equivalent award to the Tony on Broadway. .
Artistic director Mario Marcel introduced Pecora by telling us “pecora” in Spanish means “one who is bothersome.” But by the end of the show, although Pecora may stir up trouble between her imaginary characters in her earthy, energetic portrayals of, Susana, Suzie, Clarita, Christiana, Leticia, among others-I lost count after awhile, as an actress, with the energy of a blowtorch, she’s a charmer. She even works in an impersonation of Lucille Ball after the recognizable “I Love Lucy” theme is piped in. Remember that television show?
After that the play is a fast paced whirl, with silly moments, where characters change, with a flick of the actress’s head or spin of her body; or a dropped register of her voice. There are the screaming moments of recognition. Then there’s the Barbie Doll girl who had “a complete lift” from toe to head, whose wide-eyed, pop-eyed expression is worth the price of admission. “I can’t laugh too much or the stitches might come out,” Pecora says. And “I haven’t slept for a week. When I close my eyes, one of them gets stuck.” She’s so “renovated and repaired,” her class mates don’t recognize her.
We’re not sure what’s real and what’s surreal. And that’s the fun of this show. What holds all this frenetic montage together? Pecora’s infectious energy that keeps you edgy with eagerness for more as she exposes more and more of the absurd standards set for womanhood. I won’t tell you the finale, but Liliana’s birthday cake celebration of turning 50 is accompanied by Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, replete with cannons firing and trumpet fanfare. Tchaikovsky composed the overture to celebrate the rout of Napoleon. No, that’s wrong. Tchaikovsky must have composed it for Liliana Pecora, who conquers her fears.
There’s more in the festival to come: A pantomime artist-clown from Columbia and a dramatic actress from Equador next week. Check out: or visit Teatro De La Luna
- Running time: 1:25
- When: Ends Saturday, Oct 27 . 3 pm and 8 pm
- Where: Gunston Arts Center, Theatre 2, 2700 South Lang St, Arlington, VA
- Tickets: $30, $25 students and seniors
- Info: Call 703 548-3092 or visit Teatro De La Luna