You have to hand it to the characters in “Club de Caballeros (Rotos de Amor)/Gentlemen’s Club (Love Torn)”: Their romantic lives may be in free fall, but they don’t sit around moping. Instead, the four hapless men strive to remedy their plight — at one point going so far as to take experimental drugs that may, or may not, cure amorousness entirely.
The human-guinea-pig scene — the love-curing drugs turn out to be available in ingestible, injectable and suppository form — is just one of the zany sequences in Argentine playwright Rafael Bruza’s witty comedy, which is receiving its U.S. premiere from Teatro de la Luna. Director Mario Marcel’s amiable 90-minute production, performed in Spanish with English surtitles, showcases four actors whose ability to suggest impetuousness, amicability and goofy seriousness, by turns, complements Bruza’s stylized, screwball-flavored plot.
Told in a series of vignettes — a format that creates a pleasantly snappy narrative flow — “Club de Caballeros” is a tale of friendship, as well as a meditation on the absurdity of love. After Rodriguez (Alex Lopez-Montanez) separates from his wife and alienates his dog, he turns for comfort to three close pals, each of whom has his own tangled personal life. Artemio (Alex Alburqueque) has been sleeping on the couch because his spouse is fed up with his snoring. Berlanguita (Jerry Daniel) is in love with a married woman to whom he has never spoken. Their mute friend, the Silent One (Juan Bianchi), is a pining widower.
The four men get together periodically to strategize and console one another. At one point, they form a band, but their attempt to serenade Artemio’s wife produces a ghastly din. Later, they decide to improve their romantic prospects by dyeing their hair blond. But first they have to agree which shade to use — golden blond, ash-pearl blond, ivory blond or “savage blond.”
Dapper figures in matching suits, with contrasting colored shirts, the four actors clown and deadpan affably on the spare set, which is anchored by a modernist statue of a tangoing couple.
Lopez-Montanez makes an appealing straight man, and Alburqueque’s Artemio is droll in the experimental-drug scene, nervously fidgeting with a medicine dropper before downing the entirety of a vial in one swig. Adopting infuriated, scolding and blissfully clueless expressions as needed, Bianchi aces his silent comedy.
And Daniel is effective enough as Berlanguita, who delivers some of the script’s most pointed lines. Justifying his habit of worshiping women from afar, the character asserts, “An unblemished illusion lasts for centuries. . . . There’s no greater destruction of love than the one that becomes real.”
Wren is a freelance writer.
by Rafael Bruza. Direction, set and sound design by Mario Marcel; assistant director, Silvana Fierro; lighting, Gary Hauptman; costumes and props, Rosita Becker and Nucky Walder. In Spanish with English surtitles (English translation by David Bradley and Christine Stoddard). 90 minutes. Through May 25 at Gunston Arts Center, Theater Two, 2700 S. Lang St., Arlington. Call 703-548-3092 or visit www.teatrodelaluna.org.