When first hearing the title of Abniel Marat's play "dios en el Playgirl de noviembre" (god in November's Playgirl), you could nearly cringe at the possible hipster nature of the play's scope. Personally, the first question that came to mind was, "What could it possibly mean?" After experiencing the play, and with quite a bit of reflection, only one thing comes up: It means everything. The play is about everything.
As part of the 52nd Puerto Rican Theater Festival of the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture, Teatro Uno Corp. reaffirms its commitment to continue presenting elevating theater experiences for local theatergoers with the staging of the 30th anniversary edition of Marat's renowned play.
"It has been 30 years since we premiered this at Café Teatro La Tea [in Viejo San Juan], and it has since gone virtually everywhere, all without my permission," the playwright said humorously before recounting the list of European and South American countries in which this particular play has been staged: Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Chile, Spain and France, not to mention such cultural U.S. mainland hubs as New York City, San Francisco, Miami, Hollywood and Houston.
"To paraphrase Juan Antonio Corretjer: As a poet or writer, there truly is no greater satisfaction than to lose control of your work and have it taken out of your hands. Tonight has been magical; I have remembered departed actors, and friends, who have played these roles...The play was performed verbatim, just as it was so long ago," he reminisced.
Marat recognized the director, Mariana Quiles Fabián, for the play's especially faithful staging, "Silences and all." For her part, Quiles describes the script as "one of the most stimulating texts I have held in my hands."
The play's monologues are permanently present in the Certamen de Oratoria (Oratory Tournament), celebrated annually in private and Catholic schools islandwide.
"dios en el Playgirl de noviembre" has five male characters with monologues encompassing all that make us human: hope, repression, acceptance, identity, mortality, joy, religion, passions, and anything else you may see in it. All characters are intertwined in one way or another, but in challenging ways, making for interesting discussions during intermission and at least an hour after it ends.
The acting, on the other hand, was nothing short of superb. Cristina Sesto and Víctor Alicea deliver hilarity and sorrow, as they say, at the drop of a hat, and bring these humble, humiliated and desperate people's stories to life with words that speak to the soul: "Calendarios son como taquillas de la muerte, o la vejez," (Calendars are like tickets to death or growing old), says "La Tongo" in one of the play's lighter moments.
La Tongo, a male transvestite, is an almost historical figure, created in a moment when there was barely any queer literature to speak of. In the end, she represents things to come, a prophet in a play that at times startles with its time transcendence and validity. The play's physical staging is also worth mentioning for its simple, yet at the same time, transporting elements that stir the imagination.
As we say "Sin que se me quede nada por dentro," which loosely translates as "Without holding anything back," the play is highly recommended, and will be showing until May 8 at Teatro Victoria Espinosa in the Santurce sector of San Juan.