December 11, 2017
Thursday, November 20, 2014

Face transplant story turns into harrowing onstage confession

A scene from Aún no consigo besar, directed by Heidi Steinhardt.
A scene from Aún no consigo besar, directed by Heidi Steinhardt.
A scene from Aún no consigo besar, directed by Heidi Steinhardt.
By Carolina Nogueira
For the Herald

Written by Diego Bagnera and based on a true story, Aún no consigo besar describes the struggle of Isabelle, the woman who received the world’s first face transplant. The wounded woman, played by Estela Garelli, describes, in an unflagging speech, every detail of the incident, her recovery and the social reaction after surgery.

Every memory is rekindled by her daughter, her doctors and a newspaper journalist who becomes all too nosy. All of them interact with Isabelle and empathize with the pain and trauma she endured before, during and after the surgical procedure.

The story of Isabelle getting disfigured is very impressive: one night she decided to take sleeping pills to forget about a heap of mounting problems. But the pill overdose only left her unconscious on the floor. The next morning she woke up in a numb state and could not even smoke a cigarette, as it dangled from her lips. Looking at herself in the mirror, she discovered that, while unconscious, she had been mauled by her dog.

The story became media fodder, and medical teams around the world realized Isabelle’s need for the first ever face transplant. In Aún no consigo besar , Isabelle’s post-surgery recovery and her new appearance are the most interesting aspects. Directed by Heidi Steinhardt, this production is an in-depth analysis of a personal tragedy, the possibility of overcoming it after a painful process and the social and media buzz about a gruesome case.

Although not everyone was aware of it, Isabelle’s tragedy had a prologue. Lucie, her only daughter (played by Florencia Naftulewicz), had an argument with her mother the night before Isabelle was attacked by her dog. Was it the argument that prompted Isabelle to try to kill herself?

This is discussed in a very descriptive manner: Isabelle retells her ordeal with her back to the audience. The strange sound of her voice is the only element that forebodes tragedy. Lucie, on the other hand, speaks confronting the audience to help her mother make herself understood. During the whole play, mother and daughter not only graphically describe but also reenact the events of the night prior to Isabelle’s traumatic accident.

There’s a third character in Aún no consigo besar: a psychiatrist, played by Cristina Maresca. It is the psychiatrist who actually manages to bring Isabelle’s sensitive, vulnerable side to light, carefully explaining the situation her patient is going through. A fourth character, Isabelle’s physician (Mario Sala), retells, in an intimate manner, the way she looked before surgery, the arduous medical procedures and the patient’s new appearance after recovery.

Full of dramatic moments, Aún no consigo besar follows the struggle of a wounded woman, her milieu, and the strength she must gather in order to overcome her horrible ordeal. One of the most interesting aspects about Aún no consigo besar is that, instead of showing only Isabelle’s point of view, it voices multiple opinions, which prompts the audience to identify with one character or another.

Where and when

El Extranjero, Valentín Gómez 3380. Thursday at 8.30pm. Tickets from $70.


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