look at a group of siblings dealing with some disturbingfamily history. It’s AlterTheater Ensemble’s latest “pop-up theatre” and runsthrough Feb. 23.
Siblings Lola (Liva Gomes Demarchi), Sandy (Carla Pauli),and Bruno (Eduardo Soria) arrive at their late grandfather Saúl’s Bogotá apartment to arrange for his funeral. Heis a man who will be mourned by no one, especially by the sisters who hesexually abused, but familial duty requires them to handle his interment.
The apartment is cold, stark, and haunted by its previousinhabitants. Soon the sisters are engaging with the spirits. Sandy deals withthe ghost of Saúl (Tony Ortega), who is trapped in the apartment because heknows if he leaves, he’s destined for hell. Lola finds herself in conversationwith her grandmother Nena (Leticia Duarte), challenging her to explain why shedealt with her husband’s physical abuse of her and sexual abuse of others. Herexplanation is haunting in its own right.
Bruno is the odd man out. Born in the United States afterhis mother relocated there, he never knew his grandfather and cannot relate tohim as anything but a doting distant relative. This may explain Sandy’s antagonistic attitude towards Bruna and his care-free,pansexual lifestyle. How dare he find joy in something she relates to traumaand pain?
All of this unfolds under the watchful eye of Jesus (NoeFlores) who, when he’s not residing in a jar, is content to observe quietly.When he does speak, it is not in the Biblical language, or with the attitude, onewould expect from the son of God.
Wickedly humorous at times, gut wrenching at others, it’sclearly Burbano’s attempt to exorcise her own ghosts. Director Alicia Coombesfacilitates that exorcism with the help of a very strong cast. Pauli, GomesDemarchi, and Soria feel like siblings and make that unspoken bondpalpable. Duarte blends compassion with hard-bitten reality as the grandmother.Ortega may be menacingly one-note as the despicable grandfather, but that ishow the sisters see him. Flores makes for a very unique Jesus.
The storefront setting presents challenges, particularlywith scene transitions, but the cold and emptiness works in its favor. Aspassers-by stopped to peer quietly through the windows, it was as if anothergroup of ghosts had arrived. They should have come in.
AlterTheater’s ‘Ghosts of Bogotá’ runs through February 23 inthe vacant store located at 1200 Fourth Street (at the corner of Fourth and BStreets) in San Rafael. There’s a Wednesday, February 12 performance at 7:30pm.The Friday and Saturday evening performances at 8:00pm; and the Sunday matineesare at 2pm.
For more information, go to altertheater.org