Las Mujeres Verdaderas Tienen Curvas (Real Women Have Curves)
de Josefina Lopez
Directed by Jay Maria Padilla
Obra en español con supertítulos en inglés
In Spanish with English supertitles
Jay Marie Padilla, Penelope Quesada, Luz Estela Gonzalez, Sarah Baker, & Xenia Miller in Las Mujeres Verdaderas Tienen Curvas. Photo courtesy of Teatro Tercera Llamada.
Review by Keith Waits
Entire contents copyright © 2017 Keith Waits. All rights reserved.
Real Women Have Curves. Well, of course they do, and Josefina Lopez’ play, adapted from her screenplay for Patricia Cardoza’s 2002 film, celebrates the truth of that statement in all of its meaning. Her five characters look like real women, but perhaps even more importantly, they behave like real women. They work together, argue, make-up, defend, and console each other together. They are flawed people struggling to survive.
The five are also Hispanic, most only recently documented and eligible to work legally in the United States, and one who remains undocumented. Lopez’ story would be affecting at any time, but to say it has particular resonance in this moment in history is an understatement.
Ana (Jay Marie Padilla, who also directed) works with her mother, Carmen (Luz Estela Gonzalez), in her older sister Estela’s (Penelope Queseda) small dress factory. Rosali (Xenia Miller) and Pancha (Sarah Baker) also work there, suffering unbearable heat and humidity and temperamental machines, low pay. Yet the women are deeply connected culturally and socially in ways that are difficult to overcome. In the film, Ana is the central figure, given a romance and positioned as a catalyst for change for the other characters. Lopez wisely drops the boyfriend and any other characters, turning the factory into a hermitic physical environment that, like the beauty shop in Steel Magnolias, highlights the inherent qualities of the characters and allows their bond to be revealed with clarity.
It makes the play feminist by default; a tract about female empowerment and body shaming delivered with so much good humor and just enough pathos that one overlooks the pedantic quality of the script. Lopez crafts a warm-hearted ensemble and the production follows through with a well-chosen cast who builds good chemistry. Opening night brought particularly impactful moments from each member of the ensemble, most especially Sarah Baker and Luz Estela Gonzalez.
There were some problems with dropping lines – difficult for this non-Spanish speaker to judge accurately, but the supertitles were frequently out of synch and this was likely the reason; and the climax of both Act One and Two didn’t quite gel as they should. The loose, congenial dynamic among the five actresses went a long way to connecting with the audience, but the dramatic narrative missed its full potential. It’s the kind of thing that often rectifies itself after more performances but reminds us it was the first night with an audience.
The set design is by Haydee Canovas, who also did effective costumes, but the set is notable for capturing the cluttered, hodge-podge of a small sweatshop while still providing clean, sensible spacing for the blocking.
The all-important rapport between the ensemble members is best exemplified in an offbeat, giddy moment of exposure in which the women own and celebrate their bodies. The understated manner in which it is played is part of its charm, and the way in which this Las Mujeres Verdaderas Tienen Curvas triumphs over opening night glitches to bring its message of female empowerment and inclusiveness to meaningful dramatic life.
Las Mujeres Verdaderas Tienen Curvas
January 13, 14, 20, 21, 27 & 28 @ 7:30pm
January 15 & 22 @ 6:00pm
14 de enero Minerva Virola hablara sobre inmigración/ immigration
15 de enero Sarah Nuñez hablara sobre latinos adquiriendo educacióon superior/Latinas achieving higher education
20 de enero Elenco de Mujeres Verdaderas Tienen Curvas
27 de enero Marta Maria Miranda hablara sobre latinas y violencia domestica/ Latinas and domestic violence
Seniors/Tercera Generación $16
Los boletos solo por venta por The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts.
Tickets on sale solely through The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts.
Teatro Tercera Llamada
At The MeX
Kentucky Center for the Arts
501 Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202
Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art during the days, including being the host of PUBLIC on WXOX-FM 97.1/ ARTxFM.com, but spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music and visual arts. His work has appeared in Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is now Managing Editor for Arts-Louisville.com.