Keep­ing mad­ness at bay

Los Angeles Times - - Theater - — F. Kath­leen Fo­ley

A sharply po­lit­i­cal play about the na­ture of tyranny and the hu­man im­per­a­tive for con­nec­tion, “La Razón Blin­dada” (Ar­mored Rea­son), at the 24th Street The­atre, is a truly in­ter­na­tional pro­duc­tion, co-pro­duced by 24th Street The­atre and Mex­ico’s In­sti­tuto de Cul­tura de Baja Cal­i­for­nia and La Univer­si­dad Autónoma de Si­naloa. Pre­sented in Span­ish with English su­per­ti­tles, the play sheds glar­ing light on some of his­tory’s dark­est cor­ners: in this in­stance, the bru­tal mil­i­tary regime in Ar­gentina that ex­tended from the 1970s to 1983.

Forced into ex­ile dur­ing that pe­riod, writer-di­rec­tor Aristídes Var­gas writes from the deeply per­sonal per­spec­tive of one who has suf­fered un­der a sys­tem gone mad. “Razón” was in­spired by his brother, im­pris­oned and tor­tured dur­ing Ar­gentina’s “Dirty War.” Lan­guish­ing in iso­la­tion, he was al­lot­ted an hour each Sun­day to in­ter­act with his fel­low pris­on­ers — time spent act­ing out sto­ries, their hedge against despair.

Var­gas’ har­row­ing, sur­pris­ingly funny piece cen­ters on two po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers who es­cape into the world of Cer­vantes’ “Don Quixote.” Jesús Cas­tañosChima plays De La Man­cha, a cere­bral in­di­vid­ual on the verge of mad­ness. Ar­turo Díaz de Sandy is Panza, a com­i­cal char­ac­ter desperately try­ing to keep his friend sane — for his own sake as much as any­thing else. The ac­tors are fault­less, fully flesh­ing out the con­tours of Var­gas’ eco­nom­i­cal stag­ing.

Echoes of Kakfa and Beck­ett re­sound through­out in ef­fu­sive, el­lip­ti­cal in­ter­changes that are of­ten non­sen­si­cal, some­times di­dac­tic.

The sheer spate of ver­biage makes the su­per­ti­tles a bit daunt­ing for non-Span­ish-speak­ers, but de­spite that bar­rier, the ef­fect is hal­lu­ci­na­tory, trance-in­duc­ing and sur­real, an ab­sur­dist con­struct that ham­mers home man’s gross ca­pac­ity for in­hu­man­ity — and his tran­scen­dent abil­ity to en­dure.

“La Razón Blin­dada,” 24th Street The­atre, 1117 W. 24th St., Los An­ge­les. 8 p.m. Satur­days, 3 p.m. Sun­days. Ends Oct. 30. $24. (213) 7456516. 24thstreet.se­cure.force .com/ticket. Run­ning time: 1hour, 25 min­utes.

Paul Rubenstein

‘PAR­ADISE PARK’: Reha Ze­mani, left, Troy Dunn and Lena Kouy­oumd­jian in Charles L. Mee’s kalei­do­scopic amuse­ment-park vi­gnettes at City Garage.

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