Inspired by Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
By Raúl Dorantes
Directed by Marcela Munoz
A Moving Spin on the American Dream in Latin Voice
Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman is an American classic. It tells the story of the flawed protagonist, Will Loman, and his delusional descent into insanity and suicide. The current work by Raúl Dorantes is more than a translation – or better said, it is an interpretive translaton that translates the ideas, not merely the dialogue. The result is a work that is even more moving than the original. El Lunes de León Rodriguez gets to the heart of the family tragedy and renders it comprehensible in contemporary Latino experience.
Directed by Marcela Muñoz – one of the most renowned artists of Latino theatre in Chicago – the production mixes the present and the past through the use of flashbacks – an element not found in the original work. The compact set, a collaboration of Muñoz with Rosario Vargas, creates spaces that facilitate the telling of the tale with a certain surreal aspect. Muñoz puts her actors in unexpected positions in order to transport the audience not only between the past and the present, but also in and out of the minds and emotions of the members of the Rodríguez family. This artistic decision adds sensitivity and deepens the emotion in Dorantes’ play.
The plot is well known to virtually all theatergoers – a salesman who can no longer earn a living through his commissions and who is enduring a total personal collapse as he is unable to pay for the things his family has enjoyed for years. His dreams are disappearing; and worse yet, it is all his fault. The whole collapse is the result of his own character defects and in the shadows of his insanity he sees that his life has passed him by. It was all a false dream, a lie. Elio Leturia is superb as the pots and pans salesman, Leon Rodríugez, and so is the fabulous Alba Guerra as Rodgiguez’s wife, Linda. Guerra hits a perfect note as the mother protecting her family. She wraps her husband and her son Benjamín (Carlos Rogelio Díaz) in an affection that knows no limits. She pays no attention to their shortcomings and only acts to protect them – from the world and from themselves. The mother-son chemistry between Guerra and Rogelio Díaz is especially convincing.
Hats off to the Aguión Theater Company for this fantastic production and for their 20 years of nurturing Latino theatre in Chicago. Aguijón Theater is one of the jewels of Chicago theatre – not only for its position in the Latino community, but also for adding an authentic Chicago voice to theatre in general. Thanks to a very well done program synopsis in English, El Lunes de León Rodríguez is accessible to theatergoers with even a modest understanding of Spanish. Aguijón Theater is a warm and inviting atmosphere, so if that’s you, head on over and take some friends.
Date Reviewed: March 7, 2009