Immigrant Led Astray in His New Home‘Probation,’ by Yoshvani Medina, in Spanish
By ANDY WEBSTER
Published: July 24, 2012
The playwright and director Yoshvani Medina was born in Cuba, and judging from “Probation,” his engaging work presented by Repertorio Español at the Gramercy Arts Theater, he is consumed with ambivalence about that country. Throughout the play, essentially a dialectic between pro-Cuban and pro-American sentiments, Mr. Medina resists taking sides, wisely preferring to explore gray areas in each perspective.
A prologue presents an unspecified but recent military skirmish in Cuba: A dying Fredo (Sandor Juan) extracts a promise from Pancho (Alfonso Rey) that he will take care of Fredo’s son, Freddy. A year later Pancho is in Miami, and Freddy (also Mr. Juan) and his pregnant wife, Yenny (Hannia Guillén), arrive to start a new life. Pancho sets up Freddy at a shady clinic engaged in Medicaid fraud; the wry, skeptical Yenny seeks employment as a standup comic.
Freddy knows Pancho’s offer is suspect, but the money proves too tempting, and before long he has a house, two cars and the feds on his trail. When the authorities close in, he eyes a return to Cuba, but Pancho, the godfather to his son, tries to dissuade him. (“In Cuba, people have nothing,” he says. “Everything belongs to the government,” which prompts Freddy to retort, “And everything here belongs to the banks.”) Yenny, now a journalist and blogger, has ideas of her own.
The production is in Spanish, which a new, unobtrusive captioning system translates, leaving non-Spanish speakers to savor Mr. Medina’s assured direction and the appealing cast. (Jorge Noa and Pedro Balmaseda’s stark, malleable set keeps the focus squarely on the actors.)
Freddy, who is earnest but seducible, is eclipsed by the cynical Pancho, whose gruff observations can be hilarious, though their more heated exchanges verge on the didactic. Ms. Guillén’s character offers vital leavening, with monologues about sex and the lessons she’s learned in America; her blog is called I Live in Miami (and I Know Its Entrails). Unseen is Freddy and Yenny’s baby, Fred, part of a future generation fated to inherit the impasse between countries so close and yet so very far apart.
“Probation” continues through Sept. 27 at the Gramercy Arts Theater, 138 East 27th Street, Manhattan; (212) 225-9999, repertorio.org/probation.
Summer in the City: Theater Edition
Here is our list of must-see off-Broadway shows!
Wednesday, July 11th, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Amanda Mactas
New York City is known for its spectacular Broadway shows. But you can get equally stunning and entertaining shows without the hefty price tag and the hustle and bustle of the theatre district. Check out these must see off-Broadway shows!
The Flower Thief: Presented by Horse Trade Theater Group and The Fire This Time Festival, this play, written by Pia Wilson, is one to see. The story centers around Clark, who is grieving over the loss of his twin brother and is clinging to nature's promise of renewal. Clark turns to stealing flowers as everything else around him slowly wilts. This show, directed by Heidi Grumelot, will run August 2-19 at The Red Room at 8pm. Tickets are available here for $18.
Probation: Repertorio Espanol presents the New York premiere of Yoshvani Medina's Probation at Gramercy Arts Theater. The show will be be presented in Spanish with subtitles via in-seat Simultext Captioning System. The play is a timely story about compromising moral values in order to get rich quick. A Cuban man brings a friend's son to the US and the boy takes a job as the director of a medical clinic after trying out hard labor. However, his world turns upside when he gets arrested by the FBI on charges of Medicaid fraud. Tickets are on sale here for $27 and the show runs from July 12th until September 27th.
The Change Season: Sink or Swim puts on quite a show with both David Auburn's Proof and Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband at The Connelly Theater. Performances go from July 5th-July 29th. In both shows, the characters are living a life of illusion and lies. Women in each show must look inside themselves and realize that they must change the way they view themselves and others in order to move forward. Tickets are $18 and can be purchased here.
King Kong: Horse Trade Theater group presents RadioTheatre in the only live on stage performance of King Kong...ever! We all know the story of the giant gorilla who climbs the Empire State Building, so no need to explain it to you. This great adventure uses a cast of fabulous storytellers, and original orchestral score, and a bundle of sound effects to bring the story to life. Tickets are $35 and available here; the show takes place at the 45th Street Theater beginning August 1st.
Chess: This special concert to benefit The Actor's Fund, will be performed one night only on July 30th at 7:30pm. Robert Cuccioli, Natascia Diaz, and Drew Sarich will be starring in the show, which takes place at LaGuardia Arts at Lincoln Center. The show follows a love story set against an international chess championship between American and Russian players, inspired by the 1972 match between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky. Tickets are $67.50 for general admission of $128.50 for reserved seating. They can be purchased here.
Le Prince et le Pauvre: Otherwise known as The Prince and the Pauper, this show, put on by CETM and Cutter Productions, in association with the Midtown International Theater Festival, will be showing the New York premiere of this classic story at the June Havoc Theatre. The show will be presented in French with supertitles and an encore in English for three performances only, July 27-29th. The story follows a young prince and a pauper who decide to switch places. The show is being directed by Gaelle Pouliquen and $18 tickets can be purchased here.
My Mind is Like an Open Meadow: 59E59 Theaters and Hand2Mouth Theatre bring you the New York premiere of Erin Leddy's show. The writer lived with her grandmother for a year in 2001 and recorded her memoirs...the product is this show, in which the audio of the elderly actress comes to life and journeys between two generations of theater performers. The show goes from August 1st until August 19th. Tickets are $25 and available here.