The Young Lady from Tacna

Feb. 6—March 9 $20–$42
GALA Hispanic Theatre
3333 14th St. NW, Washington, DC
Map
(202) 234-7174
Visitors to Bolivia who enter from Peru via Lake Titicaca will be surprised to learn the landlocked country has a navy, right there on the world’s highest navigable lake. It’s a legacy of the 1879 to 1883 War of the Pacific, which left Chile with an even longer coastline than it needed, Peru with a shorter one, and poor Bolivia with none at all. Chile’s notorious land grab sets the stage for Mario Vargas Llosa’s La Señorita de Tacna (The Young Lady from Tacna), which opens in the postwar but still-occupied Peruvian border city of Tacna. Vargas Llosa’s first play, which he wrote in 1981, is an exercise in historical revisionism, albeit one concerned with family rather than national history. A sleazy Chilean military officer, Joaquín, who sets the whole sordid mess into motion. Played by Victor Maldonado with a weird accent, he’s the only weak link in an otherwise well-acted production dominated by Luz Nicolás as Elvira aka Mamaé, the object of his affection. She’s sweet and innocent, he’s got another woman on the side: a sultry “Indian” who looks more like a fortune teller from Carmen, played with stock exotic otherness by Andrea Aranguren. Elvira discovers Joaquin’s two-timing after a visit from the “bad woman,” breaks off their engagement, and vows never to marry. The real question, though, is if the audience will follow a story and main character that bounce back and forth 70 years. So the play hinges on Nicolás, who convincingly transforms from teenage naïf to brittle old woman without the aid of any Benjamin Button makeup. Her performance is enough to paper over the jarring transitions, unclear secondary character developments, and loose ends that don’t quite get tied up. [MP]

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Film
Aug. 28—Aug. 31
GALA Hispanic Theatre -
3333 14th St. NW
$20–$265

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