Theater

Se Llama Cristina Asks What It Means to be Latino in America

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One doozy of a morning after awaits the couple passed out on a couch in Se Llama Cristina, Octavio Solis’s new play at INTAR. But the problem is not the Dewar’s and crack they ingested; it’s the existential hangover they are about to experience that will have these strangers climbing the precariously pitched walls of Raul Abrego’s set while it sinks through the floorboards. And what’s with the empty crib with the single KFC drumstick?

Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit famously posited that “Hell is other people.” Se Llama Cristina refines that pronouncement for these two Mexicanos: Could hell also be the
structural insecurities of being Latino in America? Solis
explores both possibilities in this fragmented text that
won the 2014 PEN Center Award for Drama. Although it risks being derailed by its fantastical premise and director Lou Moreno’s pulsing lights and sound effects, the play works as a fiercely tragicomic investigation of identity and agency.

On the way, Carmen Zilles and Gerardo Rodriguez — who star as the hungover, disoriented strangers — display a sincerity and resilience worth rooting for. Meanwhile, a swaggering David Anzuelo and the luminous Yadira Guevara-Prip, the couple’s torturer and guardian angel, respectively, keep the tone delightfully absurd.

If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, in Solis’s infierno there are mostly bad choices and even worse luck,
but from rock bottom, the only way to go has to be up.

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