Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Teatro de la Luna 16th International Festival of Hispanic Theater

By • Oct 25th, 2013 • Category: Reviews
XVI Festival Internacional de Teatro Hispano (16th annual Hispanic theater festival, with simultaneous English translations)
Teatro de la Luna: (Info) (Web)
Gunston Arts Center, Arlington, VA
Through November 24th
90 minutes (times vary)
Free to $35/Discounts for multi-show passes and for students and seniors
Reviewed October 19th, 2013

Though your immediate plans may not include a visit to Latin America, here’s a timely thought: you can get a right-here-and-now glimpse of our neighbors to the south by visiting the Teatro de la Luna’s annual Hispanic Theater Festival, now running at Gunston Theater Two in Arlington.

First stop on the tour, Quito, Ecuador, took place this past weekend. Two actresses from that city performed a droll dual portrait of a couple of elderly women – nursing home roommates – whose reminiscences, confusions and observations are buoyed by bawdy humor.

Miche is proud of her ever-changing list of illustrious ancestors. The catalogue sometimes extends back to Simón Bolivar and sometimes stretches even farther and includes Christopher Columbus.

Miche sniffs at Tomasa’s lowly pedigree: mother a woman of easy virtue and father unknown. “Unknown!” Tomasa snaps. “What do you mean unknown!? He was known all over the country, he fathered babies everywhere!’’

Despite her genteel pretensions, Miche struggles loudly (offstage) with chronic constipation. Much of playwright María Beatriz Vergara’s humor is shamelessly low farce. Visual pranks supply abundant laughs – Tomasa, for example, uses her four-footed cane as a lever to jack up Miche into a more or less vertical stance.

Intravenous feeding equipment is used to dispense a scary mix of beverages.

Death and the hereafter are frequent topics of speculation. (Spoiler alert, but hey, the show will have closed by the time you read this.) Miche and Tomasa’s wide-ranging speculations about death and such give way to first hand experience. The magic of disco offers a surprise that few could imagine.

With the help of goofy eyewear, lumpy padding, shapeless nightgowns and the sort of rubbery headgear used by beauticians for hair highlighting the two actresses – Juana Estrella and playwright Vergara – come across as hardcore geriatric cases.

Their 90-minute show is an extended (sometimes overextended) riff on the indignities of old age. Though Meche and Tomasa are strenuously undignified, they are also bizarrely hilarious.

The Hispanic theater festival continues through Nov. 24. Future attractions include:

  • Oct. 25-27, Gato por liebre (Putting on the Britches), from Columbia, about a woman who passes herself off as a man in order to get a better life.
  • Nov. 1-3, La Madre (The Mother), from Miami, a comedy about whether a transvestite can relate to his son in public.
  • Nov. 8-10, Al pie del Támesis (Down by the Thames), from the Dominican Republic, a drama about a couple entangled in a mix of fantasy and reality.
  • Nov. 15-17, Una taza de té para una mujer casada (A Cup of Tea for a Married Woman), from Puerto Rico, about a woman struggling to get along with unruly men.
  • Nov. 22-24 El país de las maravillas (Wonderland), from Uruguay, about a couple’s endless search for a better life.
  • Bilingual works for children will be performed on Oct. 26 (Yo la llamo Rusita Rojas — a variation on the Little Red Riding Hood theme — and on Nov. 2 and 9, Sanos y Contentos — a musical comedy plug for exercise and good nutrition.

Photo Gallery

Maria Beatriz Vergara, Juana Estrella Maria Beatriz Vergara, Juana Estrella
Maria Beatriz Vergara, Juana Estrella
Maria Beatriz Vergara, Juana Estrella

Photos by Zero No Zero Teatro


  • Maria Beatriz Vergara
  • Juana Estrella

Production Staff

  • General Lighting: Hal Crawford, Rodney Wallace, Jarred Baker
  • Light Operator: Alex Lopez
  • Sound Operator: Marisol Flamenco
  • Stage Manager: Peter Pereyra
  • Set Dressing: Mario Marcel
  • Technical Assistance: Peter Pereyra
  • Costume Supervision: Rosita Becker
  • Marketing Assistant: Gae Schmidt
  • Graphic Design: Sara Corral, Araceli Ma
  • Web Page Design: Mariano Lucioni, Tortuyen
  • Promotional Video: Percy Calderon
  • Video Documentation: Abby Sternberg
  • Play Translations: Michele Back, David Bradley, Marcela Ferlito
  • program Translation: Mary Dempsey, Gae Schmidt
  • English Dubbers: Marcela Ferlito, Gae Schmidt, Alex Alburqueque
  • Child Care: Martha Redin
  • Box Office: Silvana Fierro, Pedro & Mireya Gonzalez
  • Assistants-Volunteers: Ligia Artiles, Gabriela Coro, Rebecca de los Rios, Marcela Guio Camargo, Liliya Ilnitsky, Paolo Gonzalez, Araceli Ma, Gabriel Cabrera Martinez, Ted Lozza, Laura Pacheco, Norma Parraguez,Mali Phonpadith, Stefaniee Santamaria, Limary Suarez, Norma Suriel, Karin Tovar, Santos Ventura
  • Production Assistant: Peter Pereyra
  • Set Construction: Pedrito, Gaona, Juan G. Morales
  • Direction and Production: Mario Marcel, Nucky Walder

Disclaimer: Teatro de la Luna provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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lives in Arlington with his wife, daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren. Before retiring last year at age 70, he was theater critic at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for 27 years. Prior to that, he reviewed plays for the Philadelphia Bulletin, the Texas Observer and the Swarthmore College Phoenix. Non-reviewing journalistic jobs include writing for the Houston Chronicle, the San Juan (Puerto Rico) Star and El Mundo de San Juan. Think about it: most of the papers he worked for no longer exist. Maybe this internet gig has better longevity prospects.

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