nytheatre.com review by Melanie Lee
August 12, 2006
The suspense is murderous. The lights fade in on the empty stage of Ana 3/11; traffic noises play in the background, footsteps, people talking—just another day in Madrid. The lights fade out, and back in again. Traffic, car horn, footsteps, talking. You know what's coming. They don't. Lights fade and five women walk onto the stage, their backs to the audience. The kaboom is not as loud as you feared.
Lights flash upon a young woman in a red slip, her portable phone rattling in her left hand. She calls the office of Angel, naming herself his wife; he has not come in. She calls his mother's house, gets his very young daughter. "Don't call anybody!" she warns the girl. The woman leaves a message for Angel: "I'm sorry, I have this thing against cell phones...I'm going to kill you when I see you!" She waits by her silent phone and shouts, "Ring, you damned device!" She puts on his jacket clumsily, and as it hangs skewered on her body, she leaves another message: "It soothed me to say that I'm his wife...I couldn't help saying risky things."
The young woman, Ana, is one of three Anas in the interrupted life of 40-year-old Angel Vera Garcia: in ascending age order, his distraught lover, his businesslike wife, and his elderly, outspoken mother. Ostensibly about the terrorist attack on the Madrid rapid transit system on March 11, 2004, Ana 3/11, written by Spanish playwright Paloma Pedrero, translated by Phyllis Zatlin, and directed by Anjali Vashi, gives us vignettes which study the women in the life of a man, and their reactions to sudden terror and loss.
Following Ana 1's (KK Moggie) meltdown and her poetic recall of her first meeting with Angel on the train, we have the wife, Ana 2 (Cristina LoCastro), in her dark red business suit, in the hospital waiting room with a laundry bag full of Angel's bloodied clothes. She also has his cell phone. She observes that "he likes Anas." She believes their argument this morning, in which "he denied everything," caused him to miss his usual train. Waiting with a stranger, the Romanian immigrant Irina (Ingrid Kullberg-Bendz), who is worried about her son, this Ana has figured out which voice on the loudspeaker and which door means life or death for the patient. She rails over the terrorists' choice of target: "The big shots don't take the train. They take their cars, with their bodyguards."
Ana 3, Doña Ana (Joy Seligsohn), apparently in a nursing home, wonders aloud to Nurse Julia (Evelyn Holley) why the TV set has been turned off. Ana's caught part of the news on the radio. "Is [the TV] saying my Angel isn't?" she asks. Ribaldly she recalls her husband Manuel, who also cheated: "When he had no lover, he was bent over, he gained weight, and he lost his good mood." Of herself, she says, "I've always been a bit cold, or sincere...I couldn't be like a Geisha... [saying] those words he couldn't inspire."
With the backdrop of terrorism, Pedrero's words and the actresses' furious performances explore well the facets of romance, relationship, marriage, and adultery, and give astute insights into cheating. Seligsohn, the most "actory" of the Anas, speaks too softly to be heard at times, but she is funny, and captures well the "Ha-Ha!" of an old woman who thinks she's gotten your number. Ana 3/11 is a compelling work that deserves to enter the international canon of theatre, as well as the Spanish repertoire.