October 25, 2014
Two souls neither close nor far apart
For the Herald
We are by now very used to coming across one version or another of the nature of mother and daughter relationships.
Each depiction, whether in art, film, music or theatre, usually revolves around a few standard aspects of the bond: jealousy, admiration, dependability, and sheer rivalry.
We rarely expect to find ourselves amazed by any kind of approach to the subject of mothers and daughters; however, there are still artists and writers who present us with a perspective that makes us reflect on these relationships by putting them under a fresh light.
Such is the case of Dos almas que en el mundo, a play written by Vicente Battista. While not entirely a novelty as far as theme goes, Dos almas... certainly delivers when it comes to character interpretation and quick-witted writing.
As soon as the play begins, we meet the characters, played by the only two actresses we’ll see on stage.
Paula Kohan takes on the role of mother to Mariana Jaccazio’s character, the daughter who’s been through many sorrows, disappointments and abandonment, and who tries to make the best out of living with her psychologically abusive parent, while waiting for a man to come and take her out.
The first impression one gets is certain mistrust, since it’s hard to believe two women who are clearly about the same age could be convincing as mother and daughter.
However, this feeling quickly goes away as Kohan’s talent for physical comedy and characterization becomes so compelling that one can’t help but be reminded of great dramatic actresses who are as old as she now appears to be.
The way Kohan interacts with Jaccazio’s character is full of twists and turns, and together they manage to weave an intricate net of love and hatred, forgiveness and grudges, that keeps the audience constantly on edge.
Walter Velázquez directs the play, and his vision is clearly present in the choice of rhythm with which the story develops.
Dos almas que en el mundo is cleverly divided into segments by means of musical performances by Mariana Jaccazio and Paula Kohan, both talented lyrical singers.
Every time they perform the bolero that gives its title to the play — Dos almas, a composition written in 1945 by Domingo Fabiano, the lyrics of which speak about two souls which, once destined to be united, are irrevocably distanced — the tone of the dialogues changes and we are presented with a different, usually darker side of the bond between the characters.
While this musical aspect of the show may at first come across as a strange and perhaps unnecessary element, the ploy is actually elegantly, in a wisely balanced manner, deeply related to the plot every time it comes up.
The stage design is sober and synthetic; a wide variety of elements are disposed in such a way as to be helpful to the story, but there is certainly no excess of furniture or props of any kind. This speaks to the importance attached to the presence of the actresses on the stage, as its sobriety contributes to both the development of the story and to the relationship between the characters, one that is as detached as it is obsessive.
Dos almas que en el mundo is 50 minutes long, and in that time span it manages to deliver a simple yet well-structured story.
It goes through a wide set of emotional states in a very compelling fashion, and such an achievement certainly would not be reached were it not for the actresses’ performances.
At the end of the show, one realizes that this mother and daughter relationship can easily be translated into any other sort of human bond, for we all are, to some extent, as flawed and as gifted as the characters we’ve just seen on stage.
Where & When
Dos almas que en el mundo. Written by: Vicente Battista. Directed by: Walter Velázquez. With: Mariana Jaccazio, Paula Kohan. At Centro Cultural de la Cooperación, Ave. Corrientes 1543.. Tel: 5077-8000 ext 8313. Tickets $100. Last performance today at 8pm.