FOR SALE written and directed by Beatriz Pizano, with Michelle Polak, Pizano, Yashoda Ranganathan, Lyon Smith, Lorraine Pelletier and Treasa Levasseur. Presented by Aluna Theatre at the Theatre Centre (1087 Queen West). Runs to October 12, Tuesday-Sunday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $18, stu/srs $15, Tues and Sunday mat pwyc. 416-538-0988. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
in for sale, beatriz pizano attempts to give us the political and mythopoetic history of her native Colombia and comment on the state of womanhood there, all in 90 minutes. She doesn't succeed - who could? - but there's lots of theatrical riches on display, plus yet another gripping performance by the queen of indie theatre, Michelle Polak . Polak plays the Woman (it's in the program, folks), a Canadian sometime actor relegated to demeaning stereotypical Latina roles, who takes a job as an interpreter in order to revisit her homeland of Colombia to tape a documentary.
What the documentary is documenting is never clear, and that's part of the script's problem. From the top, we're given vignettes, imagistic throwaways, interspersed with arch, ironic history/museum lectures.
Pizano fails to provide an entry point, and it takes a while for the Woman's journey to begin. The link between the Woman and Simón Bolívar's freedom-fighting lover, Manuelita Sáenz, who seems a touchstone for her, is never clear, and that's a huge flaw.
Pizano does offer lots of information, though, about the effects of 50 years of armed struggle, and some scenes display striking visual power. The cast fill out the sprawling canvas respectably, but best is Polak, who valiantly plays her underwritten mythical character with compassion and strength.