War? What War?

gemelos.jpgReview in brief: Compañía Teatro Cinema, Gemelos

Last night, Counter Critic checked out Compania Teatro Cinema’s Gemelos, the first of the four Spanish-language plays that are being presented at the Lincoln Center Festival.

The magic of theater was in full force, as just three actors (along with a few puppets and a lot of imagination) on a set that couldn’t have had a footprint of more than 20 feet by 20 feet, portrayed a virtual saga of human struggle. The sheer amount of ground the production manages to cover affectively is astounding.

We particularly liked how the miniaturizing of everything made these expansive and often thorny themes (war, rape, child abuse, child molesty priests, sexual depravity–the character “Harelip” is essentially the town cum bucket; even a dog gets in on the action) somehow manageable, not so overwhelming or depressing (even though one white-capper quietly moaned to her friend as they were leaving the auditorium, “That was rather hopeless”).

It’s fitting that one of the devices of the set is to create the illusion of looking through a camera lense, since it seems to be from a distance that we watch this flattened but no less deeply moving story of human resilience through the worst of humanity.

Here’s Charles Isherwood’s Times review. It’s pretty good in terms of its aesthetic appraisal.

Our big concern, however, is Isherwood’s failure to draw even a vaporous connection between the theme of living during a time of war (which is basically the context of the entire play) and this crazy fucking situation in Iraq!!!! I mean, come on! If anything, it proves how dissociated we are from the dehumanizing experiences of war since we outsource all our battlegrounds.

But hey, if criticism’s only goal is to give aesthetic opinion, then fine. But we can’t help but feel something of a lost opportunity to really engage in a meaningful discussion about art and life when one of NYC’s top theater critics can’t even connect the dots between the paratrooper invasion (this is actually one of the darkest and most transcendentally beautiful moments of the production) and subsequent military occupation that takes place near the end of Gemelos and the plight of the people of Iraq, who currently scratch out their lives between the violent forces of our military and their insurgents.

It isn’t political simply to mention Iraq. Or is it?


  1. […] when it looks optimistic, and Redden mentions Gemelos by Chilean troupe Compañia Teatro Cinema (reviewed here) and the upcoming Divinas Palabras (previewed here), he fails to mention that those works are being […]

  2. […] kind of trend is especially unfortunate when you take into account the concurrent trend of critics not to draw any associations between art/performance and our nations the current climate of war. This basically sets a precedent that, critics will only talk about politics if they’re […]

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