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March 23, 2015

Spanish language production examined
flawed family relationships and dynamics

By Elisabeth Weems

The scandalous secrets of a seemingly perfect, bourgeois family were revealed in “Mi Muñequita” (My Little Doll), a dark comedy that probes the underlying realities of the apparent happiness associated with wealth.

Written by Uruguayan playwright Gabriel Calderón and directed by Dante Larzabal, this play was performed exclusively in Spanish by ensemble members of Teatro Publico de Cleveland (TPC). They are a relatively young and talented Latin American theater troupe and “Mi Muñequita” was their third full-length production. A U.S. premiere, it ran for one weekend only, March 5-7.

Although the dialogue carried the plot of this “terribile tragedia,” the narrative was facilitated by the dramatic actions and tasteful vulgarity, even for non-Spanish speakers.

This farce stunned audiences with its honest exposition of a flawed, rich family. Narrated by the profane, sarcastic butler, this insight into one family’s fabricated life was comical, entertaining and shockingly frank.
The fictional daughter, Nena (Nieza Rivera), lives with her abusive uncle, mother and father. Bordering innocence and womanhood, Nena models her behavior after her immoral mother.

Madre (Lorna McLain) is a psychotic, hyper-sexual and dysfunctional woman and role model. This pill-popping, cigarette smoking, alcoholic mother lives vicariously through her daughter, who becomes the object of her uncle’s revenge.

Muñeca (Liney Cintrón) is a life-size doll who provides escape and comfort to Nena while diabolically plotting the deaths of her family members.

In a sequence of emotional outbursts — explosions of synchronized dance and murders — this well-crafted production shattered the concept of riches without flaw. “Mi Muñequita” captivated audiences with its witty humor and realistic, dark plot.

Other members of the cast included Tío (Alexander Corona), Mayordomo (Gilberto Peña) and Padre (Alejandro Rivera).

The production team included Lindsay Carter (stage manager), Inda Blatch-Gieb (set/costume designer), Kevin Orozco-Cruz (sound operator), Mónica A. Cerpa Zúñiga (stage manager assistant) and Alda Rivera (run crew).