Many of the finest productions that Teatro de la Luna has produced over the years have existed in a realm best described as unconventional and tending toward the absurd. So it is with its latest sprightly creation, "Club de Caballeros: Rotos de Amer" ("Gentlemen's Club: Love Torn") by Argentinian playwright Rafael Bruza.
The narrative, neatly directed by Mario Marcel, is divided into 10 scenes. It tells the story of four salesmen, differentiated only by their body types, the colors of their shirts, ties and the suitcases they carry. Everything else about them is the same, from their hair to the fact that they are unhappy in love. They search for it and can't find it. They have it and lose it. They see it clearly but can't go after it. Their lives are cases of frustration, suffering and broken hearts.
And yet the tone of "Club de Caballeros" is light, at times verging on hilarious. The men are clowns in a huge, universal circus where they are not allowed to see a happy ending to a story. In fact, the play starts out by announcing that every story has a sad aspect.
One man, Rodriguez (Alex Lopez-Montanez), can't get into his house because his wife's dog blocks his way. Eventually the dog is accompanied by Rodriguez's wife's tango teacher. Another man, Berlanguita (Jerry Daniel), courts the woman he loves silently for eight years, bringing her flowers even as she marries another man. For him, the "unblemished illusion" of love is more precious than a real marriage because it lasts forever.
|If you go|
|'Gentlemen's Club: Love Torn'|
|» Where: Teatro de la Luna, Gunston Arts Center, 2800 S. Lang St., Arlington|
|» When: Through May 25|
|» Info: $25 to $35; 703-548-3092; teatrodelaluna.org; in Spanish with English surtitles|
For Artemio (Alex Alburquerque), serenading his beloved with poems written on perfumed paper and bringing her flowers is a way of celebrating his love for a woman who has long ago rejected him. For the Silent One (Juan Bianchi), silence is how he honors his dead wife.
The spare set, designed by Marcel, emphasizes the emotional wasteland the characters inhabit. Rosita Becker's and Nucky Walder's costumes (dark gray suits, that rainbow of shirts and ties) offer an intriguing comment on how alike the men are. The play would not be possible without the colorful contribution of hairdresser Juanita Real.
"Club de Caballeros" is the sort of play in which the playwright will offer no way out of his characters' private hell. As the clowns try various fixes to alleviate their unhappiness, everything from visiting a beauty shop to experimenting with medicines, they come closer and closer to the conclusion that they are simply victims of love, that no one has control over their emotions, that there is no cure for love-sickness, and that the search for love will drive men on forever.