Through October 21st
Fridays and Saturdays, 8PM
At the Historical MACHA Theatre
West Hollywood, CA
A Review Luis Reyes
Odalys Nanin’s English language play, Frida: Stroke of Passion is a bold and provocative piece of theatre that brings to life in a most accessible and insightful way, the enigmatic Mexican art and feminist icon Frida Kahlo (1907-1954).”
A formidable and complex subject for any dramatist to tackle and ripe for exploration, Nanin focuses on the little known last week of Kahlo’s life—when she has lost a leg, is bedridden and in debilitating pain—a pain only eased by powerful drugs and medications. Frida, who has known many of the key artistic and political figures of the first half of the Twentieth Century, finds herself under the influence of drugs, revisited by ghosts and memories of the past and present.
Communist Leon Trotsky who was assassinated in Mexico, African-American Jazz dancer Josephine Baker, Mexican screen legend Maria Felix, Photographer Tina Modotti, Mexican Folk singer Chavela Vargas and a Cuban Mata Hari, Teresa Proenza, all make an appearance at her deathbed. Mexican Muralist Diego Rivera with whom she has an unconventional marriage is her true love and artistic inspiration but he cannot stand to see her in such pain. With a body and mind racked with seemingly endless pain since surviving a trolley accident that impaled her at age 16, pain infused and informed her self-reflexive art.
Nanin gives an unforgettable performance as Frida that makes her Frida a flesh and blood human being that does not shy away from her various indulgences. Frida’s bi-sexuality is shown in a tasteful but truthful manner on stage. Marisa Lopez is a standout among the characters in her dual role as singer Chavela Vargas and transitions into the movie star Maria Felix. Complete with music and song, she inhabits Chavela and her scenes with Frida are most touching and memorable. Campbell De Silva plays a restrained and world-weary Diego Rivera who is tormented to see Frida in such intense pain. Ebony Perry conveys the beauty and playfulness of the diva Josephine Baker at the height of her Parisian fame and her affair with Frida. Paul Castanet plays a wily Trotsky. Nancy De Los Santos, who co-directed with Nanin, sensitively handles all this. Marilyn Sanabria is more successful as Tina Modotti than the role of a Cuban Spy, Teresa Provenza, which she also portrays. Tricia Cruz is capable as the nurse, as is Daniel Lavidis as Judas and Francisco Medina, who serves as a musician and Frida’s devoted peon, Manolo. Child actor Joseph Bixler is cute as Little Diego. Marcos De Leon’s set design of Frida’s bedroom suggests her color palette, uses a multimedia screen mirror cleverly set in Frida’s bedroom.
In essence, the play, acts as a primer for those familiar with the personage of Frida Kahlo, but not the intimacies of her life, and certainly not the final week of her life. Though it offers some revelations, it does fall short as drama in that it attempts to cover too much material and too many characters. Scaling it down would have produced a better and more satisfying dramatic arc. But nevertheless, Odaly Nanin, Nancy De Los Santos and company have achieved a rare artistic, insightful and entertaining theatrical experience that you will not soon forget.
Get over to The Macha Theatre, 1107 N. Kings Road, West Hollywood, CA
Frida: Stroke of Passion plays weekends through October 21st, Friday and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. For more Information CLICK HERE.