The way things truly are
For the Herald
Written and directed by Pilar Ruiz, the stage play En el fondo, currently showing at Timbre 4 fringe auditorium, unfolds in a boy’s small bedroom.
As part of the performance, the audience walks through the boy’s room and, minutes later, the play’s main characters, Flora and Pedro, make their entrance. Verónica Cognioul Hanicq and Fabricio Mercado — the play’s only two actors — engage in a violent relationship, full of secrets and unconditional love.
With a simple format, Ruiz’s En el fondo depicts the bond between Flora and Pedro, now trying to escape from the brothel where they used to live. It so happens that they have run into trouble with the bordello’s owners after a photograph surfaces that forces them to seek shelter somewhere else. This is how they eventually return to his old home, the house where they, as kids, would spend long hours together and stay the night.
Things have changed now. Living in isolation with his partner, Pedro’s repressed anger surfaces, giving way to brutal situations that expose humankind’s misery.
Doubling as set designer, Fabricio Mercado incorporates childhood-related elements to the performance space. Painted and decorated mostly in blue hues, the room is full of things that revive happy moments from the past in contrast with the stark current situation. Back in Pedro’s childhood home, the couple change their perception of one another.
It’s mostly Pedro who goes through these mood swings, from kindness to rudeness. He stands for the duality between his lifelong love for Flora and his brutal attitude toward her at the brothel. This contradiction is well represented by Pedro, a violent man who resorts to pimping without really intending to.
Drawing a clear distinction between them, Flora is presented as innocent and sweet. Apparently forced into prostitution, her ignorance and childlike looks function as the opposite of Pedro’s irascibility, striking a welcome balance between the two characters throughout the entire play.
Pedro and Flora are an unusual couple who develop an unconventional love story that touches on violence and manipulation, affection and abuse, turning Pilar Ruiz’s En el fondo into a fully developed play.
Where & when
En el fondo. At Timbre 4, Av. Boedo 640. Sundays at 9pm.