Revolutions Unveils Causes and Effects from "Amnesia of Violence."

Leigh Kennicott Reviews - Theater
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In the intimate Avalos Theatre, Elaine Romero’s tone-poetry unfolds a story at once iconic and specific, treating of Latin American revolutions writ large. Perhaps preceding the conquistadors, violent overthrow has been modus-operandi throughout the southern hemisphere.  And Romero’s simply structured play sheds light on the process that reoccurs again and again, always re-enacting the  “amnesia of violence.”

 

Director Bruno Bichir from Foro Shakespeare in Mexico City, in collaboration with LATC, visualizes Romero’s lyrical play. He picks up on her repetitions, having developed movement, accented by choreographer Olga Sokolova, to create a counter-tempo to Romero’s unique structure that takes us from the Afterlife to Real Life and beyond—to memory.  He begins with extreme stylization that gradually diminishes in strength as the characters – Hasiff Fadul as the dictator, Oscar; his former lover, Pilar (Corina Vela) and Miguel (Javier Balderas), the son he never knew – recount their stories. The actors themselves create the soundscape that indicates transitions and lends a grotesque air to the piece. In the scene at an abandoned morgue, for instance, Bichir has Pilar debating Oscar’s culpability over the shrouded body of their son. Later, the mood turns more ironic as younger versions of themselves make love over the same table.

 

All the technical aspects are sparing, from basic lighting that evades the talismans hanging from the ceiling, both by production designer, Naomi Gonzalez Kahn, to the uncredited Fidel-like uniform worn by Oscar and the street clothing of the other two characters.

Even so, some of the specificity of Romero’s depiction is lost in the small space. A pivotal triad created by Oscar as observer of interactions between Pilar and her son is lost on most of the audience, as he is positioned to one side, almost off-stage in the dark, a possible result of rehearsals held away from the space.

Still, this distinctive tale of three people enmeshed in their country’s rhythm of oppression and freedom raises a clarion call for redemption from inevitable loss. Romero’s conception rings clearly: the amnesia of violence demands that would-be reformers become the very dictators they protest.

Revolutions continues Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm; Sundays at 4:00 pm through May12th, in the Avalos Theatre at The Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 Spring Street Los Angeles 90013. Tickets range from $20.00 to $38.00.  Purchase by phone at  (866) 811-4111 or online at http://thelatc.org.