December 14, 2017
Friday, June 17, 2016

Play asks the right questions about love

A roadtrip scene from Natalia Miranda’s theatre play Ruta. Ir y venir.
A roadtrip scene from Natalia Miranda’s theatre play Ruta. Ir y venir.
A roadtrip scene from Natalia Miranda’s theatre play Ruta. Ir y venir.
By Veronica Stewart
For the Herald
Ruta. Ir y Venir toys with the laws of attraction to an almost subversive degree

Romina and Javier meet in unlikely circumstances. After Romina finds herself forced to hitchhike out of the endless field she seems to be stranded in, Javier recognizes her from the street market and picks her up. Ruta. Ir y Venir is a play about intimacy, and about how a relationship might evolve from that initial, awkward phase into something completely different. It is a play about the dynamics between two people, and yet the stage would seem a bit too crowded for that, with not two but four actors on stage.

Based on Roland Barthes’ Fragments of a Lover’s Discourse, Ruta. Ir y Venir by Natalia Miranda toys with the limits between the characters’ completely neurotic thoughts and the somewhat more moderate version of themselves that they actually reveal. For each of the lovers, there’s another actor on stage, one who voices the ridiculous concerns of that one side of the brain that is both absurd and impossible to ignore. Javier’s mind goes on and on about how he is filled with desperate love for a woman he barely knows, while Romina’s brain is far too rational to embrace love and can’t help but find one flaw after another in Javier.

The choice of setting is certainly interesting, for it is one that shifts from one moment to the next: the whole of the play takes place during two different road trips, and the landscapes they go through show the characters behind the cleverly-constructed scenery that uses lighting to reveal a field bathed in orange at sunset and filled with cows.

Ruta. Ir y Venir is a play that works with the extremes. Javier’s deepest desire is to be with Romina, a woman he has loved since he first saw her. Just because. Romina, on the other hand, is sceptical at first and resistant towards Javier’s constant demonstrations of love. In this way, the playwright does a good job of creating a balance not only between the two characters, but also between the ridiculous thoughts that flood their minds and the version of themselves they choose to be. The tone of their thoughts is serious and intense, which becomes humorous and light in comparison to what Romina and Javier actually do, thus staying clear of the solemnity that sometimes haunts plays about love.

However, the construction of the characters is, at times, a bit weak. They both fall into certain clichés, and even react in ways that seem a bit out of character, particularly during the first half of the play. By the time we get to the second part, the characters are more clearly defined and we feel like we are slowly getting to know them more personally. It is true that the first half is purposely awkward, simply because first encounters always are, but it is disconcerting to see the characters behave in a totally different way than one might have considered logical, and to even find some of Javier’s actions not clumsily adorable, but overwhelming and borderline freighting.

The play, as a whole, works, but one cannot help but think that if the first half was as solid as the second one, the audience’s involvement with the story would be more immediate and enjoyable. Still, Ruta. Ir y Venir is an interesting and quirky essay on the essence of love, and raises questions that have been asked since the beginning of time: what is to love? Is there a right way to do it? Can we fall out of love just as easily as some people fall into it? You won’t find the answers here, but you’ll be glad to come across a play that knows how to ask the questions.

When & where

Today and on June 24 at 9pm at Teatro del Pueblo (Roque Sáenz Peña 943). Tickets at 180 pesos available at the venue and on Discounts available for students and seniors.

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