My Uncle Is Not Pablo Escobar – Brixton House, London

Reviewer: Graham Hadibi-Williams

Writers: Valentina Andrade, Elizabeth Alvarado, Lucy Wray and Tommy Ross-Williams

Directors: Lucy Wray and Tommy Ross-Williams

Brixton House is getting a reputation for putting on productions written or performed by local talent and My Uncle Is Not Pablo Escobar is another example. It is written by four Latinx women/non-binary people from the South London area who recognised the stereotyped casting of Latinx actors and their lack of visibility. Now they actually get to tell the story they want.

They have gone about this aim in an imaginative way indeed. Two of the writers, Valentina Andrade and Elizabeth Alvarado are the first ethereal voices you hear coming as sounds from above the stage and through the performance they keep, what could sound like an OTT plot-line, deftly on track with commentary and perfect self-deprecating humour.

The team want to show the lived realities of Latinx women: the casual racism and misogyny on the street, but also the diversity in backgrounds, languages spoken, expressions, and sexualities. They also focus on the lived experience of working undocumented, being exploited or under constant threat of deportation.

The main storyline is when four of these women’s worlds collide and their endeavour to unveil the biggest money-laundering scandal in history as they try to expose the culpability of a well-known multinational bank. Interspersed within this is audience interaction such as questions on what foods are preferred – quesadilla or cheese on toast – or questions from the Citizenship Test and the audience is treated to joyous dancing to boot. These again keep the feel light-hearted and fun throughout even though the main storyline is a serious one.

Confusingly the main plot, the women coming together to expose the bank, at first seems off-kilter. Was that a fluffed line? Two cast members talking at the same time? Overacting? The audience cracking up at a serious dialogue? Nope, just brilliant writing and perfect comedic timing, especially the part of Cata played by Pia Laborde-Noguez, though all characters are excellently played, with a balance of seriousness and light touch humour.

The stage set is kept simple but effective with quick easy changes to different locations and the sound team works wonders from the back with cheering crowds and other effects. This could easily encourage too much audience rowdiness but the balance is spot on. However, one uncomfortable moment is when one of the women is dancing for men in a club. Worryingly, some audience members join in the whooping, but that’s real life.

Adding to the joy of this production is being able to see it in a venue that has a large local Latinx community, the largest growing community in Britain, which increased in the area after the ‘regeneration’ of Elephant and Castle.

Runs until 24 June 2023

The Reviews Hub Score

Latinx women’s power

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The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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