Fountain of Youth
nytheatre.com review by Akia Squitieri
March 3, 2006
Fountain of Youth takes place in St. Augustine, Florida and follows Alexa Ruiz, a young coroner, as she investigates the mysterious death of a perfectly preserved elderly couple. Through her investigations, she meets an eclectic band of characters: Teresa Rodriguez, a retired supermodel who is now the caretaker of the mansion where the bodies were discovered; Javier Figueroa, Teresa’s bodyguard and Alexa’s former sweetheart; and the many employees of the manse, from the personal assistant to the wild chef. The audience also travels back in time to the discovery of the Fountain of Youth and meets navigator Antonio de Alaminos, who is determined to find the same fame he has given others through his work.
Noemi De La Puente plays all of the characters in the play (which she also wrote). It's part love story, part mystery, part social statement, sort of like Clue meets the History Channel: Girl has mystery, girl re-meets boy, boy helps girl solve mystery, girl and boy are given a choice to have their wildest dreams come true or do what’s right. The show also spends time subtly asking why our society is so youth-driven.
Puente tries to cover a lot of ground, and she hits most of the marks though misses others. Moments such as Javier and Alexa realizing that Teresa is ancient and could only have had help from an unnatural source are a bit sitcom-like; and the sequence in which Alexa, trying to figure out what to wear to meet her former love, brings out half the contents of her closet including a ladder of shoes, is funny at first but goes on far too long. On the other hand, the relationship between Javier and Alexa is portrayed with such strength that it forces you to feel for Alexa. The characters of Antonio Alaminos and the old woman guarding the Fountain of Youth bring delightful satire and wry wit into play.
So, though there are some parts of Fountain of Youth that drag a bit, Puente’s vivid characters keep the audiences interested. It is clear that Puente really understands her characters, and delivers each with gusto. She has a delightful childlike manner and it's refreshing to watch someone who relishes every moment on stage with such joy.