July 30, 2014
An arresting incision into the beating heart of art
For the Herald
Previously performed in a museum garden, this play narrates in continuous speech the return of Nora García to her former home, where she once lived with her late ex-husband. His funeral in the house yard reunites Nora with a lot of people of her past and makes her face the differences between what she left behind and how things are now. All these thoughts and emotions are displayed by Analía Couceyro, who plays an unconventional widow who is fairly persuaded she deserves others’ condolences.
The set design consists of two chairs and a separate space in the back, where Rafael Delgado — the cellist in charge of live music — provides intense and melodious moments. His contribution and the director’s decision to include music are the most noteworthy additions in Tantanian’s El rastro, but they are by no means a coincidence, since Nora and Juan — the ex husband — were members of an orchestra.
The Mexican novel abounds in art and cultural references, giving the audience the possibility to connect the story with previously-known information. The minimalist set design features a cigarette and a pair of glasses as the only props. Also — while the audience is taking their seats — a woman offers an alcoholic drink which is the same one that Nora will sip at the funeral. This mise-en-scene choice helps immerse the audience into the story in a more direct way. The black theatre hall and the sparse set design compel the viewers to imagine almost everything based on Nora’s soliloquy and the description of her circumstances.
Nora’s analysis of Juan’s demise is as sentimental as it is rational and rendered in the unforgiving terminology of medical lingo. Throughout her monologue, Nora thinks about pain in every sense and returns, time and again, to heart attacks and blood circulation. The heart beats are recreated by the cello’s sound, counterpointing the scene as a parallel tale.
With the talented Analía Couceyro leading the action onstage, this novel-cum-play alternates between the dramatic and the comical. Couceyro proves once more her capacity as a fully developed performer, impersonating the other people at the funeral and also splitting her own character in two. Director Alejandro Tantanian identifies the important and necessary references in the original text, leading the audience to interpret the rest as well as allowing them to reach conclusions about the story instead of eagerly settling for a ready-to-ingest approach.
Where and when
Teatro El Extranjero, Valentín Gómez 3380. Sundays at 6pm.