Daughter of Cuban Revolutionary

Friday April 29, 2016

Daughter of Cuban Revolutionary

ArtsEmerson continues their trilogy of plays exploring the Latino(a) experience with a poignant one woman show "Daughter of Cuban Revolutionary" by Marissa Chibas.

It is part family memoir, part history lesson. By interweaving stories about her family with historical context, she creates a performance that is both very personal as well as representative of a lost culture.

The tales of Ms. Chibas' family could probably fill several plays. Her father, Raul, was a close ally of Fidel Castro and co-wrote the manifesto that Castro used to drive his infamous revolution. After serving alongside Castro for many years, it became clear to Raul that the country was going in a direction he could not support and he fled to the United States in the early 1960s.

Her uncle, Eddy, was a very popular politician known for fighting corruption. He used a weekly radio broadcast as his forum, and once promised his audience proof of widespread government corruption only to have his source not show up for the interview. The resulting embarrassment drove him to commit suicide during a later radio broadcast.

Even her mother was the runner up to Ms. Cuba in the late 1950s.

Yet, with all this material from which to work, Ms. Chibas has created a brief hour-long experience. She has managed to ferociously edit these lives down to a few key stories that somehow make you feel you know these people in a way. And through them, both her as well as a whole generation of people.

As with the text, it's obvious that every element of this production has been stripped down to only those things that are essential. A long video projection, a loud speaker, some rocks. But Ms. Chibas' storytelling is so masterful, you can envision everything that is not represented.

The simplicity of the whole evening is one of the most stunning elements. As soon as you see the word "revolutionary," your mind goes to protests and shouting and chaos. This is the antithesis.

It is a bare bones production, but the marrow is rich.

"Daughter of Cuban Revolutionary" continues through May 1 at the Emerson/Jackie Liebergott Black Box Theatre, Emerson/Paramount Center, 559 Washington Street, Boston, MA. For more information, visit the ArtsEmerson website.