This is only Agustina Gatto’s second play, so the fact that the small theatre is packed on the opening night seems slightly surprising. It is clear from the first scene of this short drama of chase, however, that she has found her feet as playwright and director already.
The venue is small and the set starkly minimalist: a bare black stage, white screen at the back and a transparent box, similar in dimensions to a telephone box, standing to the right. This all contributes to a feeling of closeness to the action. The first words are spoken from inside the harshly lit glass box and resound jarringly, only returning to normal pitch and tone when the actor emerges onto the main stage. The initial action is fraught with tension, within the first scene we have witnessed a man persuade his estranged son to give him the shirt off his back by threatening him with a gun.
The setting changes to a bar, subtly expressed by the addition of a table and chairs which pulls out from the back wall, a piano and two glasses of whisky. A grey-haired man plays gentle music on the piano. The inhabitants of this bar are all seeking someone or trying to escape something and the man at the piano says that from here there is no exit. The protagonist, ‘the man’, played by Germán de Silva is looking for the son with whom we saw him fight in the opening scene, the man at the piano (Oscar Núñez) plays ‘Niño Viejo’, a tune for his own lost son which drives the first man into a frustrated rage. The lady with the clarinet abandoned her own child.
The action is punctuated by a TV advert projected onto the back wall, starring the son from the first scene, advertising shoes which help you run and never get caught. The enthusiastic voiceover declares that the young always feel chased and the old always run after them. This motif is echoed and complicated later when another video shows the protagonist arriving too late into shot to catch the piano man, only to be joined later by the son he previously sought. The “glass box” which previously served as a phone box, is converted into a place of introspection and baring souls.
Gatto’s play suggests the circularity of family relationships and the simultaneity of time, insinuating that no one can ever really escape from anything as past, present and future inexorably seek you out, although without relieving an intense loneliness. The piece is short and absorbing, the pace sufficiently fast and the acting convincing. The full potential of the small venue is exploited and I will have the ‘Niño Viejo’ tune buzzing around my head for days.
‘Buscando’ shows at El Portón de Sánchez, Sánchez de Bustamante 1034, Fridays at 9pm. The play is in Spanish. $25 standard ticket, $15 for students and the retired. Call to reserve tickets on 4863 2848. More information at www.buscado.blogspot.com.