The 70s were a bad time to be politically active in Argentina. Or in Argentina. An oppressive government routinely “disappeared”, tortured, and murdered its citizens, including not only guerillas, but students, artists, clergy, and journalists.
24th Street Theatre’s La Razón Blindada from playwright Aristides Vargas – who was in Argentina at the time – presents two prisoners allowed a single hour per week to talk to one another across a table. If they take their hands off the table, they are shot. If they stand up, they are shot. So how do they spend their one precious hour of human connection? They recount the adventures of everyone’s favorite mad knight, Don Quixote de la Mancha. Mixing in elements of Kafka’s “The Truth About Sancho Panza” and done with a minimalist set – rolling chairs and tables and image projection – you have the steeltrap feel of fascism and an ex nihilo burlesque of imagination. Whereas the physical, “real”, circumstances of the characters are absolutely controlled, not even rationality can control them when they start telling stories. Despite their suffering, they fly.
Naturally, La Razón Blindada is in Spanish, but there are conveniently placed English subtitles. The abstract nature of the show, the complexity of ideas, and the relentless comedy were sometimes tough for me to follow and digest while also watching the wild but precise movements of the characters on their highly mobile furniture, but that’s not a criticism. There’s just a lot going on in this play. You can see this top-notch and timely show, revived from an award-winning 2010 run, until October 15.
Located on the southwest edge of downtown, 24th Street Theatre has a hell of a season coming up: a show about ICE, radio plays and a Dia De Los Muertos block party — this isn’t your local amateur theater reviving Carousel. This is both professional and genuinely communal. Get down there.