To call “¡Ser!” a “one woman show” doesn’t really capture the vitality and passionate essence Karen Anzoategui packs into her 90-minute performance piece.
“One tornado show?”
“One megaton nuclear warhead show?”
Closer to the mark.
In relating her struggles with cultural identity, sexuality and a life-long obsession with soccer, Anzoategui merges song, choreography and a solid sense of the poetics into a wondrous hybrid, whether intentional or not, reminiscent of classical Greek theatre. Classical if slightly madcap.
Anzoategui plays an array of characters, donning a clown’s nose for her younger brother, portraying her father via a pretty solid James Brown impression, and managing to bring a believability and distinction to each different persona she inhabits.
Anzoategui bounds about the stage telling of life divided between the political upheavals she encountered in Argentina and social friction she faced in East L.A.
In this stream of consciousness chamamés she is superbly supported by Cava (Claudia Gonzales-Tenorio). Cava, who was so very memorable in the very forgettable “Evangeline, The Queen of Make Believe” engages Anzoategui in an amoibaion of songs composed and arranged by Walter Miranda and Louis Pérez (of Los Lobos). The spirit of the show is all Anzoategui, but its soul is Cava’s.
Director Marcos Najera must be given credit for the perfect blending of the show’s very diverse elements.
Anzoategui’s tale is not epic. There are neither great tragedies nor lofty victories in her story, save that of a member of the human race learning to rejoice in their own individuality, and in this day and age that’s a triumph worth celebrating.