After more than three and a half hours of Caborca Theatre’s overseasoned and undercooked Zoetrope — now playing at Pregones Theater in the South Bronx — I felt like I’d lived through the multiple decades of Puerto Rican–U.S. history it depicts. Not in a good way.
To make a long evening short: In the first half of this bilingual production, written and directed by Javier Antonio González, a young man named Severino leaves his new wife and emigrates to America, where he has an affair with a woman named Susan and dies of something that makes him spit blood — TB, perhaps.
In the second half, his son, an aspiring
actor, meets Susan in a New York sauna and ends up playing his mythologized dad (!)
opposite her in a film reprising their relationship — which they take back to Puerto Rico to screen for his mother. (Not the best idea: Among other things, it includes a sex scene featuring spitting up blood.) In between, there are nonsensical dances, florid dialogue, and symbolic coincidences with implications for various characters’ identities. (The subtitles conked out during part two, so I missed some stuff in Puerto Rico.)
The young ensemble has no shortage of ambition, but the work suffers from a serious lack of editing. History is long and sometimes incoherent, but history plays don’t have to be.