Review: Phoenix Theatre's "Guapa"

January 9, 2013
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The Phoenix Theatre’s participation in the National New Play Network is more than commendable. In Indianapolis, it’s borderline revolutionary to see so many new works given full, solid productions as part of a company’s regular season.

Equally bold is the Phoenix’s commitment to plays focused on Hispanic characters and its efforts to develop minority audiences.

“Guapa,” running through Jan. 20—and with performances in Spanish on the 19th and 20th, exemplifies all of that in one pleasurable package.

Here we have a new play by acclaimed-but-not-yet-breakout writer Caridad Svich that centers on a young girl with the dream—and perhaps the skill—to make it in professional women’s soccer. But this is far from a Disney Channel if-you-can-dream-it-you-can-do-it inspiration tale. It’s subtler than that. What’s holding her back isn’t some evil opposing coach, it’s her own self-image and the complex pressures of each of the members of a family she’s living with.

The play is at its most interesting when we are fully immersed in the world of single mother Roly (a radiant Patricia Castaneda), her children, the studious Pepi (Magdalena Remos) and angry LeBon (Guero Loco), and their adaptable cousin Hakim (Adrian Gomez). Their difficulty in getting any traction in their world is palpable, their internal conflicts truthful and fresh, and their problems compelling. The soccer/football passion of Guapa (an ideally cast Phebe Taylor) also plays well, although it isn’t quite believable that Roly would be resistant to her possibly success.

The play falters, though, by not allowing its characters to face conflicts and make choices that lead to the play’s conclusions. Much of the second act is built on random actions instead of characters making choices. A key plot point involves an accident, but the recovery—and the feelings it inspires—seem just as accidental. Too often Svich falls back on magic realism crutches (dream descriptions, etc) rather than allowing her characters to dramatically work their way through their conflicts.

Still, these are characters I wanted to spend more time with. And as much as I wished to know if Guapa made the big leagues, I wanted even more to know the fates of LeBon, Pepi and Hakim.

It seems unfair to push for a sequel before the original is polished, but if one gets written, I’d like to see it on the Phoenix stage.

Your thoughts?

ADVERTISEMENT
  • Guapa
    I agree with with your conclusion. Patricia and the cast were wonderful and I truly enjoyed the show. I cried and laughed. I want to see how it works out for this family!
  • You said it, Lou!
    You're absolutely right, Lou - Phoenix has been doing "borderline revolutionary" work for years - and they make all of us at the National New Play Network immensely proud. They're also fortunate to have in you such a strong and smart advocate for the importance of new work and risk-taking in the arts...

Post a comment to this blog

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT