Your Problem With Men by Teatro Luna @ Encuentro 2014 – A Sarcastic Look at Feminism Today
by Liana Arauz
Teatro Luna is an all woman, Chicago-based theater company that usually does work devised and performed solely by women. Your Problem with Men‘s Los Angeles production began with Teatro Luna artistic director, Alex Meda explaining that this show represented a couple of “firsts” for them: It’s the first time the company is producing work written by a man , and it is the first time they have staged a show in the style of Theater of the Absurd. Then, in the typical Teatro Luna fashion, they break the fourth wall and engage the audience right from the top.
It follows Asun, short for Asuncion, splendidly and bravely performed by Abigail Vega, in the period pre and post break-up with her fiancé Juan. She is accompanied by Tommy Rivera-Vega who plays Juan, her father, and other male characters, and Lisandra Tena who performs the various female roles: Asun’s mother, sister, and the literary heroine Jane Eyre who makes stylistic appearances throughout the play.
The actors skillfully moved through a series of scene sequences in an all red and white setting. The action took place in front of a gigantic video screen that continually flashed red and white text. While an eye-catching device, it sometimes proved distracting and takes away from engaging with the characters. At times, it makes it hard for the audience to know where to focus – perhaps stylistically it was an attempt to represent the chaotic state that could be a woman mind.
Abigail Vega’s energetic performance in the play is no small achievement. The part is physically and mentally demanding and she doesn’t hold anything back. She boldly commits, with no shame, to the rollercoaster of embarrassing and awkward moments that Asun goes through. The standing ovation she received at the end of show is more than well deserved – she was fantastic.
Alex Meda’s direction presents a very interesting and dynamic staging as well as harmonizes quite the vibrant performances from all three actors. However Emilio Williams‘ script whose original title in Spanish was Tu Problema Con Los Hombre es …Tu, does feel a bit more Oscar Wilde than Pedro Aldomovar. Apparently his intent was to hold a mirror to woman’s conflict in their relationship with men. But his dialog mostly satirizes woman, making them sound a bit one dimensional, and pitting them against one another.
The play is funny and makes some good commentaries on the self-imposed pressures of modern women and the contradictory messages that exist within gender expectations. But it’s interesting that an all female company decided to rely on a man to write about a woman’s neurosis. The author takes a tough stance on women, many times making other female characters the most critical of each other and antagonistic to the lead character, while the males are more understanding and conciliatory.Perhaps then the play’s titled could be Your Problem with Women/Not Men….is apparently other Women.
In the script when a woman, Asun, is honest and speaks her mind, she receives insults and criticism across the board from her boyfriend, her mother, and ultimately herself. When a man, Juan, is honest and speaks his mind, he is just being that, honest, and thus receives acceptance and even accolades. The lead character decides to break up her engagement because she is not sure Juan is the right man for her. A pretty valid reason if you ask me. Why get married just because it is “time” to do so? But instead of going through moments of natural self doubt and ultimately validating her decision, the play sets the heroine on continuous self-inflicting chaos, with little to no comfort at the end. The play and author finally give her some redemption in the last scene staging a glorious fight with “Jane Eyre” but in Asun’s own words earlier on “it’s too little, too late.”
All in all, the work of Teatro Luna and the talent cast and crew exhibit at Encuentro 2014 is a production you should not miss. Check out actress Abigail Vega in an interview about her work on the production in the clip below!
Your Problem with Men presented by Teatro Luna and directed by Alex Meda as part of Encuentro 2014 at the Los Angeles Theatre Center continues its performances through November 16, 2014.
Friday, October 17 at 8:00 pm
Sunday, October 19 at 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm
Saturday, October 25 at 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm
Sunday, October 26 @ 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm
Thursday, October 3 at 8:00 pm
Sunday, November 2 @ 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm
Thursday, November 6 at 8:00 pm