Writers: Ramiro Antonio Sandoval
Original Music: Samuel Torres
Director: Ramiro Antonio Sandoval
Reviewer: Adrienne Sowers
As someone who feels she has a relatively solid grip with Spanish as her second language, this reviewer has some mixed feelings about reviewing Tabula RaSa Theater’s En El Ojo de la Aguja in English. Though this production was initially produced in English (In the Eye of the Needle, 2018), it takes on a new life in Spanish. However, to do the work of these amazing artists justice, this review will be in English as some of the more ephemeral and esoteric ideas discussed should not be compromised by attempts at using online translation tools to fill in vocabulary gaps.
Writer/director Ramiro Antonio Sandoval has created a timely and visceral experience in this devised piece. The dynamic ensemble cast: Klara Lopera-Sánchez, Andrés López-Alicea, Vanessa Hernandez, and Jei Fabiano carry this visceral text beautifully, daring those audience members that might not be as strong in their Spanish understanding as they’d like to look away to glance at the supertitles (by Juan Esteban Vélez) on the screens by the stage. The words absolutely matter and the specificity of their selection is laser-sharp, but for this reviewer, it was worth missing a word or two to stay glued to the action onstage. Physical comedy in semi-neutral masks tempered with clever dialogue make for a gripping performance. Though very different given circumstances than anything Beckett wrote, this play shares a depth beneath a veneer of inanity that is stunning and jarring.
As an inflatable wall slowly overpowers the stage and characters disappear, live cameras project onto the white monolith thanks to Jaqueline Reed’s clever AV design. The use of these cameras not only creates a stunning visual story, but it also draws a striking parallel with the distance Americans can psychically feel from the problems at the southern border of our country. There is no denying people are there, they can be seen and heard and their stories are important and difficult and so very very very challenging to project onto the other side of a literal or metaphorical wall.
The confluence of techniques in writing, devising, performance, direction, design, and production in this show is special and laudable. This seventy-five minute piece is thought-provoking, charming, and haunting.
Runs until 22 September 2019 | Photo Credit: David Troncoso