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Our Lady in the Clouds

Arístides Vargas
Teatro Malayerba (Ecuador)
Casa Latin American Theatre Festival Union Theatre
(2008)

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We must all be grateful to Daniel Goldman for bringing this understated but very moving play from Ecuador to our shores.

Spoken in poetic Spanish with excellent surtitles from Andrew Hurley, Our Lady in the Clouds is a work of magic realism which, at its best, brings to mind scenes from One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

In a short, episodic form, directed with great simplicity by Omar Elerian, two actors bring a whole host of those who rarely have voices to our attention, slowly building up a picture of life in exile.

Florencia Cordeu and Gergo Danka are surrounded by suitcases that both symbolise that exile and open up to provide props and costumes.

With them, the pair tell stories that broadly fall into two categories, tales of love and others of horrors. The country that all of these people have left may be called Our Lady in the Clouds but is far from ethereal. There, people are tortured and killed for their beliefs or speaking out of turn and it follows that many leave the country that they love.

In only seventy-five or so minutes, the actors paint a portrait of a spirited people subordinated by some kind of authoritarian dictatorship but never losing hope or spirit. Gergo Danka gives a fine performance, but Florencia Cordeu is even better, a fluid mover who conveys emotion with both her voice and body.

Our Lady in the Clouds suggests that there is a great source of unmined theatre in South America and we must hope that pioneers like Daniel Goldman and the Casa team continue to introduce them to us.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher