One mark of a promising theater company, to me, is the ability to do a lot with a little. Tackling a centuries-long, war-addled saga in a foreign language with a cast of two and a set comprised mostly of produce boxes? Yeah, I’d say that counts.
All right, I’m sorry to say it, but my public school education taught me very little about Mexico’s history, and I’m guessing I’m not the only one. But you know what that means? Asalto al Agua Transparente, the drama of the perpetual struggle for water as power in the Basin of Mexico, is like a brand new story! Shiny.
Luisa Pardo and Gabino RodrÍguez, the founders of Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol, slip seamlessly between then and now, weaving a present-day scene of two lonely city-dwellers between a tag-team storytelling reenactment of sorts… It’s kind of hard to explain because I’ve never quite seen it done like this—another sign of exciting new theater work.
Clever use of props like a bubbling fountain and a makeshift onstage shower (neat!), lend an immediacy to the water crisis that still plagues Mexico City, and a bunch of produce boxes handily set the scene in many different arrangements. And sometimes they throw stuff!
I barely resisted the urge to title this review “Supertitles Strike Back!” because I don’t want to pigeonhole Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol by focusing on one technical limitation, but I had to change seats after the play began because some of the hanging scenery seriously hindered my view of the English supertitles. (Protip: sit in the middle.) But once I could read it, the text was easy enough to keep up with, and this show did a decent job of balancing the action onstage with the requisite reading.
And about the history-lesson aspect? Don’t sweat it. It’s clear that a lot of research went into Asalto, and there are plenty of specific places and rivers and lakes mentioned, but there’s no test; whether or not you’re familiar with the geography of our neighbor to the south, you will certainly get the point. They got water problems, y’all. And it’s pretty cool that TBA could bring this company here to share the story in such an innovative and engaging way, with no frills and big heart.
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