Few nightmares rival those of a parent whose child has gone missing, even if that child is a young adult. Yet this nightmare was far too common in Argentina during the 1970s following a military coup as police frequently picked up young people suspected of being anti-government subversives. Writer-performer Jennifer S. Jones chooses this setting for Letters to Clio – Part II, Margarita, the second in her international series about the voices of suffering women.
After the unfortunate opening cliché “Life can change in an instance,” Jones sketches out an upper class Argentine family. Margarita, the concerned mother, is the main voice of the drama. She is devoted to her husband Alberto and her daughter Rosa. When Rosa’s boyfriend Fernando becomes one of “the disappeared” (“los desaparecidos”), she focuses on her daughter and tries to rationalize her civic apathy (“You don’t know him, what he might have done”).
Once Rosa fails to come home from the soup kitchen for her birthday dinner, however, Margarita is cast into a world of anguish and rumor. She ultimately finds strength by uniting with other mothers in the same situation.
As a performer Jones is skilled at using a few minor clothing items and props to create the diverse characters and settings of her story. Her dramatic vocalizations are adequate and she effectively conveys the passion and pain of the characters. Jones has a nice gift for expressing personal details.
At times the story seems to have the occasional plot hole or implausibility, and Alberto disappears for too long once she has turned her focus to the story of the Argentine mothers. Nonetheless, this tragic story does engulf the audience.
One of the ways to judge a play is if the story makes you want to know more about the characters and the setting. Even though this story is a familiar one, it may entice many to learn more at her website www.letterstoclio.com.
Letters to Clio – Part II, Margarita
Written and Performed by Jennifer S. Jones
Directed by Jessica Lefkow
Reviewed by Steven McKnight
Running time: 55 minutes
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