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Pais de Bicicleta

a Drama
by Nilo Cruz

COMPANY : Aurora Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Discovery Point Studio [WEBSITE]
ID# 5066

SHOWING : April 07, 2017 - April 30, 2017



From the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of last season’s stirring SOTTO VOCE comes the story of three refugees with a lust for freedom. Paralyzed by oppression, Julio, Ines and Pepe finally embark on the harrowing journey across the sea from Havana to Miami. The play’s magical realism is accented by whip-fast dialogue stinging with vitality, stitched with the Latin love of music and dance.

Del dramaturgo ganador del premio Pulitzer por "Ana en el Trópico" y escritor de "Sotto Voce"—presentada en nuestra pasada temporada— viene la historia de tres refugiados con ansias de libertad. Paralizados por la opresión, Julio, Inés y Pepe finalmente se embarcan en un angustioso viaje através del mar de La Habana a Miami. El realismo mágico de la obra es acentuado por un diálogo apresurado y energético, entrelazado por el amor del latino a la música y el baile.

Julio Anthony Rodriguez
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Underwrought and Overwrought
by playgoer
Thursday, May 4, 2017
Nilo Cruz’s "Pais de Bicicleta" introduces us to a Cuban stroke victim (Anthony P. Rodriguez) and his two caregivers, who decide mutually to escape Cuba on a raft once physical therapy has returned him to health. After several days at sea, with water having run out, the ending is not happy.

Georgina Escobar has directed her actors to be loud and passionate. A point is made in the script about them being unable to keep their emotions in check like the English and Germans, so there is a rationale for this, but it comes across as a bit extreme when facial expressions are so much more minimal than the volume of speech. Only Juan Carlos Unzueta, as friend Pepe, truly impresses with his expressiveness as the journey on the raft drags on.

Blanca Aurora Forzàn has created a set that resembles a square raft, with a bunch of detritus littering the upstage alcove of the playing space. Portions of the square structure lift up to approximate the shape of a boat. This shape is used as the raft journey begins. Then it gets folded back down and the structure becomes flat again, still representing the raft. Dramatically, this makes no sense. It’s all for the visuals of the production.

Nicole Clockel’s costume design shares some of the visuals-only aesthetic of the set design. Limara Meneses Jiménez, as Inés, sports a huge bedsheet-like skirt overlay during the first part of the show. This bedsheet later is repurposed as a cape for a haircutting scene before being forced into other uses. Once again it’s a visual with little resonance in the words of the script.

At least at the performance I attended, either sound (designed by Andrew Cleveland) or props (designed by Cody Russell) didn’t seem to work as intended. Radio music was indicated in the script, but silence is what was heard. At least Ben Rawson’s lighting design seemed to work as anticipated.

Native Spanish speakers may enjoy the production more than I did. I could hear laughter at some lines as they were spoken, with little audience reaction as the translations appeared on the twin supertitle screens. But the storyline is pretty grim overall, and the impressionistic storytelling leaves a lot of holes. But, as director Georgina Escobar writes in her director’s note, "I invite you to let your imagination fly, take in the sensory elements that surround you, and fill in the gaps of the story with what you wish to see realized." If only wishes could be so easily realized! [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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