LA Times: Critic’s Choice 'La Razón Blindada' at 24th Street Theatre
Los Angeles Times September 23, 2010
A sharply political play about the nature of tyranny and the human imperative for connection, “La Razón Blindada” (Armored Reason), at the 24th Street Theatre, is a truly international production, co-produced by 24th Street Theatre and Mexico’s Instituto de Cultura de Baja California and La Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa. Presented in Spanish with English supertitles, the play sheds glaring light on some of history’s darkest corners, in this instance, the brutal military regime in Argentina that extended from the 1970s to 1983.
Forced into exile during that period, writer-director Aristídes Vargas writes from the deeply personal perspective of one who has suffered under a system gone mad. “Razón” was inspired by his brother, imprisoned and tortured during Argentina’s “Dirty War.” Languishing in isolation, he was allotted an hour each Sunday to interact with his fellow prisoners – time spent acting out stories, their hedge against despair.
Vargas’ harrowing, surprisingly funny piece centers around two political prisoners who escape into the world of Cervantes’ “Don Quixote.” Jesús Castaños-Chima plays De La Mancha, a cerebral individual on the verge of madness. Arturo Díaz de Sandy is Panza, a comical character desperately trying to keep his friend sane – for his own sake as much as anything else. The actors are faultless, fully fleshing out the contours of Vargas’ economical staging.
Echoes of Kakfa and Beckett resound throughout in effusive, elliptical interchanges that are often nonsensical, sometimes didactic. The sheer spate of verbiage makes the supertitles a bit daunting for non-Spanish-speakers, but despite that barrier, the effect is hallucinatory, trance-inducing and surreal, an absurdist construct that hammers home man’s gross capacity for inhumanity -- and his transcendent ability to endure.
-- F. Kathleen Foley