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Tension and Suspense Hit the Stage at Método Kairós

Contratiempo 01

Picture this: you’re stuck with your annoying little sister in a stuffy flat, in a heap of illegal debt, growing (presumably) stressed with just a few hours to pay up. To top it all of, the hitman is outside, waiting. Think you’d be cool as a cucumber? Nope, me neither. I’d probably cry. Maybe even call my mum? But that’s not the course of action for Inés and Santiago, the protagonists of Gonzalo Cabalcabué’s Contratiempo, ¿Cuál es el límite? Not by a long shot. Their journey is far more complex, hilarious and frankly, ridiculous.

This tense piece is currently wowing audiences every Friday night at El Método Kairós, that little theater in Palermo Hollywood that constantly turns out great plays. As with most theaters in Buenos Aires, El Método Kairós doesn’t do seat reservations. But don’t fret, you can still get those sweet, sweet central spots without elbowing your way through like-minded and fighting-ready audience members.

Around 10 minutes before the show is announced, a queue starts to form through the café-bar to the two doors at the back. Getting to the front is somewhat of a contratiempo itself… (Sorry, I had to). El Método comprises two separate performance spaces, but the queue is the same for both. Hop in and await those glorious front-row views.

Contratiempo, ¿Cuál es el límite? is a rather intense play, if that was made at all unclear by the title. From the moment you walk into the tiny room and catch a glimpse of the already miniature stage packed with an excessive number of stacked cardboard boxes, the pressure and urgency of the evening becomes clear.

Santiago and Inés are trapped in their little flat by the intimidating hitman outside, as he waits for them to pay up. The plot follows the two siblings as they try to get ahold of the money in time to save their own lives, no matter what the personal cost. The intimacy of the performance space and resulting proximity to the action immediately creates this oppressive, tense environment which only adds to the audience’s involvement in, and enjoyment of, the thrilling plot.

A dark comedy about debt, death threats, and how not to commit a crime, this piece is the brainchild of Gonzalo Cabalcabué, Fabian Asis, and Viviana Poltrone Chavez, three platense actor-director-writers. Their improvisation has proved to be a particularly useful technique while writing Contratiempo , as the characters’ reactions and monologues throughout the piece come across as thoroughly genuine and fluid.

This is helped, of course, by the energetic and naturalistic portrayals from Victoria Stecca and Elián Boren, who play the aforementioned siblings-at-risk with depth. In doing so, the actors give an already fast-paced and funny script the vigor and excitement it needs to translate into a truly compelling performance.

The audience watches as the piece toys with serious desperation and finds, at times, an almost slapstick humor in the darkest of places. The hiding of a (#spoiler!) body becomes utterly farcical as boxes collapse left, right and center around it, and trying to make a simple phone call (and I mean really, very straightforward) takes six attempts and ten excruciating, but equally hilarious, minutes. However, as the characters work through a number of ridiculous and painfully comical money-making schemes, each of which manages to fall apart quite spectacularly, the clock continues to tick relentlessly toward their deadline – and possible deaths. Cheery!

This light-hearted outright tomfoolery is contrasted with an underlying panic and distress as the siblings try, without success, to pull the money together. From being forced to sell meaningful items to betraying one of their closest friends, the two will do whatever it takes to save themselves. The intense red and yellow lighting, angled to restrict the performance space even further, only adds to the tension. Santiago’s facial bruising serves as a physical warning of the impending danger, even the blood which seeps slowly down his cheek seems to signal that their time is running out.

The whole play works toward an unexpected climax, as a fateful and darkly comedic twist at the end shocks even the most un-shockable of audience members (I heard several gasps).

All in all, Contratiempo takes you on a fast-paced, ridiculous and absurdly unexpected journey through a pretty wild situation. It’s got laughter, tears, secrets, endless twists and turns, violence, and even a large number of boxes… What’s not to love? I will say this though: even if you think you know exactly what you’d do in their shoes, if you think you could pinpoint how exactly you’d get your hands on a few thousand pesos in just a few short hours – you really don’t. But for just AR $250 pesos, you can see what some others do. And oh my, is it entertaining.

Contratiempo, ¿Cuál es el límite? – Directed by Gonzalo Cabalcabué, written by Gonzalo Cabalcabué, Fabian Asis &  Viviana Poltrone Chavez 

Fridays at 9 PM | El Método Kairós – El Salvador 4530 | Buy tickets here

Publicado en Bubble.ar el
2018-10-22 16:09:46

Hannah Parker

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