Presented by HERE at the HERE Arts Center, 145 Sixth Ave., NYC, Feb. 24-March 15.
"Erendira" succeeds in conveying sadness, cruelty, innocence, sordidness, and the triumph of hope over slavery, all found in the famed short story it dramatizes, written by Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez. Director-adaptor Kristin Marting finds many ways to capture Márquez's trademark "magic realism" in bringing the myth-like tale to the stage. The production is in English.
Erendira (Elisa Terrazas) is a young girl who forgets to extinguish a candle, leading to a fire that destroys her grandmother's (Ching Valdes-Aran) possessions. The grandmother prostitutes Erendira to repay the losses. They travel to rural areas where the young girl lies in a tent, servicing endless lines of men. Terrazas is brilliant in communicating a vast range of emotions while seemingly remaining nearly expressionless. Her reactions shine through her character's passivity and state of shock. Valdes-Aran is masterful as a manipulative narcissist, the incarnation of evil. Her throne and queen-like outfit (sets by David Evan Morris, costumes by Nancy Brous) are superb touches.
A life-size skeleton and coconut-heads with hats (soldiers, etc.—puppets are by Lake Simons) carried slowly by "the johns" (Alex Endy and Marc Petrosino) communicate the horror of the "pleasure" underway behind a lighted screen. Lea Rekow's videos set the scenes—desert plains, the coast. Sometimes the pace drags, but perhaps this is necessary to convey the endlessness of Erendira's situation. The action does speed up at key points, equally effectively.
As Ulises, Erendira's winged teenaged lover, Janio Marrero simmers with a powerful yet innocent sensuality. This is refreshing compared to shows in which young characters verbally state, rather than emanate, sexuality, uttering lines too adult to be credible for their age.
Musicians Sebastian Cruz and Uri Sharlin help set the tone well. The music is louder than Terrazas' singing, a minor distraction, perhaps meant to underscore her initial fragility.
The house was packed and enthusiastic. On balance, "Erendira" is deeply moving and highly original.