New York Theatre Workshop
79 East 4th Street
In Thaddeus Phillips and Tatiana Mallarino's highly entertaining and innovative Spanish comedy, a bumbling Colombian country peasant addicted to telenovelas moves to the big city to become an actor. A large screen behind Polonio, marvelously played by the charismatic, mustachioed Phillips, shows the scenery change from grassy fields to city streets to the lobby of an apartment building, where our hero finds work as a doorman and struggles to get good TV reception. Quickly he builds outrageous soap operaesque relationships with the tenants, who appear only on-screen (the video was shot in Bogotá). As the actors approach the lobby's front door, Polonio walks behind the screen and thenas if by magicseamlessly reappears in the video to interact with them. On a television monitor at a small rolling desk he takes orders from six upstairs residents, including a lonely woman who tries to seduce him and a drug lord (played by the talented Victor Mallarino, a famous Latin American TV actor) who begins to suspect Polonio is having an affair with his girlfriend. Sparkling, witty dialogue (performed in Spanish with English surtitles) and a script full of surprises keep the audience in hysterics for most of the play's 90 minutes. Director Tatiana Mallarino maintains high energy and suspense, making us hope for more productions like it.