Moving in with a ghost: love beyond death triggers comedy
For the Herald
Ten years after its premiere at the Teatro Nacional Cervantes, ¿Estás ahí? by Javier Daulte returns to the theatre circle with a refreshing proposal. With the original cast — Gloria Carrá and Héctor Díaz — this dynamic play presents in an entertaining way the cohabitation of an atypical couple.
Francisco and Ana have just moved into a small apartment in Buenos Aires. The usual stress caused by this situation is enhanced by a peculiarity of their new home: a ghost lives there. The interaction between Francisco and the original resident develops into a hilarious scene where Héctor Díaz proves his abilities as an actor, not only physically but in a comic and narrative way. Even though his talent is well known, he stands out once again in a fully committed performance, where he adds humour as well as a sense of veracity. In an incredibly long speech — taking into consideration it was a one-character monologue that afterwards turns into a two-character play — Héctor Díaz presents the theatrical code ¿Estás ahí? will use and probe throughout the performance.
This award-winning play addresses topics such as loss, cohabitation and love beyond death in a manner which is more comic than dramatic and where the public can easily empathize with daily situations, as well as discover the couple’s particularities. The treatment Javier Daulte gives to the elements that compose the story creates a light and enjoyable atmosphere, avoiding the typical low blows death and separation tend to have.
Gloria Carrá also stands out as an actress in this performance. Generating not only comic moments but also dramatic ones, she achieves a versatile interpretation of Ana. Easily changing the character and its interpretation, Carrá demonstrates her ability to accomplish different roles as well as the cohabitation between them.
Even though the ghost doesn’t have a bodily presence, the work Gonzalo de Otaola does as stage manager needs to be emphasized. The constant interaction between the characters and the phantasmagorical resident is perfectly coordinated by his behind-the-scenes work. The resources Javier Daulte puts to use in this play are not only funny but also amazing sometimes, causing the audience to wonder about the technical mechanisms behind it all.
Credit is also due to Alicia Leloutre as the set designer, who contemplates multiple tactics to introduce and manifest the ghostly presence in the apartment. The sound effects help to underline this construction, coming out from different places depending on what the authenticity needs.
The author and director of ¿Estás ahí? achieves a perfect balance between the organic element the theatre needs and a well-structured play. Once again, Javier Daulte presents an interesting and very visual work of art, where the elements converge in a dynamic, enjoyable and worthwhile performance.
Where and when
Teatro El Picadero, Pasaje Santos Discepolo 1857. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 10.30pm. Tickets from 150 pesos.