Friday, August 12, 2011

El banquete infinito, a farce about dictatorship

Fotos: Iván Cañas.

El banquete infinito, a farce about dictatorship
Elvira de las Casas

Miami Hispanic Entertainment Examiner
August 12, 2011

El banquete infinito (The Endless Banquet) is the  production that Teatro Akuara is offering at its new venue of Bird Road’s Art District, in Miami. The company leaded by the Cuban actress Yvonne López Arenal, chose this play written by Alberto Pedro Torriente (1954-2005) to launch officially its first season, with the collaboration of the experienced director Miriam Lezcano. Lezcano adds interest to this performance because of the fact that she was Alberto Pedro’s wife and she lived his creative process firsthand.

The play is a farce focused on the last moments of a dictator and the transition to a democratic government that ends up being another dictatorship. Sounds familiar? Of course it does for the public coming from Latin America. It’s the endless history of our countries, no wonder why Latin people can easily identify the profusion of symbols and metaphors in the dialogs.

In Cuba –where Alberto Pedro lived his whole life under the communist regime– the politic propaganda repeats that Castro fought against Batista’s dictatorship to bring democracy to the country, but Castro’s government ended being a worse, stronger, and absolute dictatorship. Like in the play, the main concern for Cuban people is to find something to eat everyday. In El banquete, most of the times people are protesting on the streets, clamoring for food, while the dictator and his accomplices participate of a non-stop eating feast. Once in a while they throw pieces of bread through the window to calm the starving protesters. 
Both dictators, Jerarca and Paradigma, are excellently played by Carlos Alberto Pérez. The level of performances is pretty uniform but Micheline Calvert and Alain Casalla stand out by their characters of Perogrullo and Viril Primera. Calvert, an actress with a long career and plenty of experience on stage, plays the artist who puts his talent in the service of the dictator. After the change of government he manages to maintain his status offering his services to the new leader. Casalla, on the other hand, has the difficult mission of performing only with the help of his gesture and the movements of a fan, without speaking a word. And he succeeds.

Yvonne López Arenal performs as Ave Rara, the dictator’s loyal lover who keeps taking care of him even though she knows that he is not anymore the romantic hero who she fell in love with. It’s amazing the moderate way she chooses to give a transition from a humorous situation to a dramatic end, avoiding a melodramatic exaggeration. That’s called professionalism and the public thanks her for it.

Akuara Teatro Sala Avellaneda is located at 4599 SW 75 Ave, Miami 33155.
Performances are 8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday until September. Tickets are $20. Call 786-853-1283 or visit Email-