International Festival of Hispanic Theater

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Editorial Review

Theater review: 13th International Festival of Hispanic Theater at Teatro de la Luna

By Celia Wren
Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A firecracker of a one-woman show signaled the opening in late October of the 13th International Festival of Hispanic Theater, hosted by Arlington's Teatro de la Luna. Writer Elizabeth Fuentes's "Mi Marido Es un Cornudo (My Husband Is a Cuckold)" is a witty, cosmopolitan and refreshingly cheerful tale of unremorseful adultery that has found a knockout interpreter in celebrated Venezuelan actress Elba Escobar. Sauntering around the stage with an air of wicked relish, occasionally pausing to improvise -- teasing audience members about their love lives, for instance -- Escobar kept a seemingly sold-out house in guffaws for a 90-minute performance.

"Mi Marido," which is directed by Enrique Salas, has moved on to New York -- it plays at Manhattan's Repertorio Español on Friday and Saturday. But the Arlington festival, at the Gunston Arts Center's Theater II, continues through late November with U.S. premieres of shows from Argentina, the Dominican Republic and Paraguay, as well as a world premiere: Teatro de la Luna's staging of the family play "Gotas de Agua (Drops of Water)," by U.S.-based Venezuelan thespian Jacqueline Briceño. With the exception of Briceño's piece (which is bilingual), the productions are performed in Spanish, with simultaneous English translation available via headset.

Audiences will be fortunate if the rest of the lineup is as saucily engaging as "Mi Marido," about a female magazine journalist who trysts with a hunky colleague while -- coincidentally -- working on an investigative report about female infidelity. On an eye-catching set, consisting of a white chaise longue, a coat stand and a blood-red rug and matching ottoman, the Rubenesque Escobar tossed off impressions of a pompous psychiatrist dispensing yawn-worthy advice; a cranky husband spotting surreptitiously bought lingerie; and a male lothario with the physique of a Greek god and a proclivity for talking geopolitics (the state of East Timor, say) in bed. Mostly, though, she portrayed the play's self-aware heroine -- shutting herself, taut-faced, in an office bathroom to read a letter from her lover; grinning goofily in a bar while researching an article on martini trends; and, finally, blowing wistful kisses in an airport after a bittersweet goodbye.

Next up at the festival are two plays from Argentina, Christian Vivas and Hernán Traversa's "Socorro! Me Caso (Help! I'm Getting Married)" and Pablo Di Felice's humorous Shakespeare riff, "Romeo y Julieta, una Obra en Construcción (Romeo and Juliet, a Work in Progress)." Those will be followed by "Ubú Rey (King Ubu)," a version of the Alfred Jarry classic by a Dominican Republic troupe; Briceño's piece; and, finally, Hugo Luis Robles's "Techaga'ú-Añoranza (Wistful Memories)," from Paraguay.