Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Cleveland & Akron

Labio de Liebre
Cleveland Public Theatre / Teatro Publico de Cleveland
Review by Review by Mark Horning


(top row) Lilly Corona-Moreno, Luis Ramirez-Alonzo,
Nathalie Bermúdez, Magdalena Godinez Rios,
Ernesto Luna Camargo; (bottom row) Alexander
Corona, Kivin Bauzo, and Christina Patterson

Photo by Steve Wagner
Located in the northwest corner of South America, few Americans know very much about the Republic of Colombia. Size-wise it is between Alaska and Texas but with a population of over 49 million people. The land is tremendously varied in climate that ranges from year-long wintry icecap conditions to tropical rainforest, savanna, desert, tundra and Mediterranean-like conditions, and anything in between.

The country has also been a hotbed of civil unrest for the past fifty years which, in spite of the actions of the government, shows little signs of ending anytime soon. Currently the Revolutionary Armed Forces, the National Liberation Army, and the 19th of April Movement (M19) are at war with one another as well as the elected government, resulting in the death of thousands of innocent civilians.

Fabio Rubiano Orjuela's Labio de Liebre ("The Lip of the Hare"), now appearing in a Cleveland Public Theatre / Teatro Publico de Cleveland production, tries to address the issue of murdered innocents in this civil conflict.

Salvo (Kivin Bauzo) has been sentenced to three years house arrest in the icecap area of Colombia that is in a perpetual state of winter. His furnishings are simple. He has a bed, a couch, a TV with remote, a kitchen area, and a fridge. He also has strong memories of the sins he committed as part of one of the warring factions in his country. Salvo attempts to justify his crimes by pointing out that he was not responsible for the over 3,000 reported deaths but only 350. His slaughter of an entire herd of cattle was on orders from the rancher who owned them. His murder of an entire family was due to them helping one of the other paramilitary organizations that he has pledged to fight against.

Throughout the 90-minute one-act play he is visited by the murdered family. There is the Hare (Alexander Corona), who has a cleft lip and was buried alive because of his infirmity; his brother (Ernesto Luna Camargo), who was decapitated; Mala (Nathalie Bermúdez), Salvo's lover whom he ended up also killing after she had an abortion; and the mother (Christina Patterson), who died trying to protect her family. There is also Roxi (Alisha Caraballo), an ex-beauty queen turned reporter who was forced to cover the civil war resulting in her death as well.

Dead animals also come to visit, including a cow from the massacred herd (Luis Ramirez), a chicken (Lilly Corona-Moreno) who was killed for sport during a headless chicken race, and a rabbit (Magdalena Godinez Rios) who was hunted to fill the supper pots for the soldiers.

These various characters enter Salvo's house through the glass door, walls, windows and refrigerator. They are here to accomplish one thing—to have Salvo learn their names and confess his crime of murdering them and their father (who is not represented in form during the play). Soon, Salvo's entire life is consumed by these visitations as he tries to negotiate with the ghosts as well as justify his past actions.

The entire play is done in Spanish with English translations projected on a screen located above the set. Surprisingly, in spite of the dark subject matter, the play is rife with humor (of the darker kind). The local troupe of Teatro Publico de Cleveland are extremely energetic putting forth all of their energies. Director Dante Fernando Larzabal coaxes good performances from his actors, with singing and dancing added to advance the story.

To repeat the warnings in the program and eblasts, this is a show for mature audiences (16+) only. There is dark subject matter, brief nudity, and quite a bit of adult language.

What the play attempts to do is to put names and personalities to what for many of us are obscure newspaper reports from other parts of the world. It does a good job at this. Through this work the nameless and faceless victims come alive in our minds as we begin to ask questions about what can be done to stop these atrocities.

Labio de Liebre will be on stage through April 15, 2017, and is produced by Teatro Publico de Cleveland at Cleveland Public Theatre. The theater is located at 6415 Detroit Avenue. Tickets may be purchased by calling (216) 631-2727 or online at cptonline.org.


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