Sometimes love and marriage are monumental Sisyphean phenomenons that can often feel like rolling a boulder up Mount Everest and riding a bed on wheels down the backside ’til death do us part. Sometimes love and marriage can transform the hardest of hearts into softies and even the kindest most patient lovers into psychopaths. But love and marriage always alters our perception of love and marriage.
However, in Marco Antonio de la Parra’s “Infieles” (“Unfaithful”), which opened during The International Hispanic Theatre Festival (IHTF) of Miami, I didn’t feel like I was going up or down a mountain. Instead, I felt stuck inside the mind of an angst ridden twenty-something’s wordy, borderline-cliché, nonstop externalized internal monologue split among four bipolar characters — an idealist, a failed poet turned publicist, a boring businessman and a conservative housewife — who wheeled around stage on roller beds.
The play simply felt out of time.
Granted, the play was set in 1988 during Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship of Chile; however, the play didn’t communicate the incredibly dark, murderous time period that these conflicted characters inhabited. The staging, which appeared like an upscale version of Bed Bath & Beyond, jarred me. It worked against the gravity of the text and made the characters look and sound unintentionally farcical and goofy. And there was steam/smoke billowing from behind the rear curtains for no logical reason.
Despite my faithful protest, the cast — Hannah Ghelman, Cristina Ferari, Boris Roa and Guillermo Perez — did a phenomenal job executing the play’s intent. Without their fierce fidelity to craft, the production would have totally collapsed. Bois Roa’s passionate portrayal of Felipe won the audience over. But it wasn’t enough.
Yes, “Infieles” wasn’t just about love and marriage. It was also about losing our ideals to the two big r words: reality and responsibility. However Teatro Prometeo’s production failed to unify all the elements of theater — dialogue, staging, lighting and even costumes — to convince me. And I’m not adverse to heady philosophical plays. I just want them to shut my internal critic down and make me pay attention to the story instead of question why.
The International Hispanic Theatre Festival (IHTF) of Miami runs through July 29th and features an eclectic mix of productions from around the globe. For the program and times, visit www.teatroavante.com/english/program.aspx.