A DEER IN CHAINS / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Mariela Brito en ’Rapsodia para el mulo’. (ORLANDO LUIS PARDO LAZO)

The shortest monologue in the world has just been presented in a small room in Havana: “And where did Cuba end up?” (It is at the level of the short story “The Dinosaur” by the Guatemalan Augusto Monterroso.)

Its name is Rhapsody for the Mule, and it is directed by Nelda Castillo for her theater group The Enchanted Deer.

A heptalogy of madness, directly from the trash, collage over a bare wagon-cart for a collector of homeland waste (a trash collector of revolutionary residues: the actress Mariela Brito walking her brutish biology, drooling and urinating in circles on the stage, excited under the crude lights, its male-female sex only barely disguised under the coagulated dirt of silent desperation).

Go, beast. (“Horse horse,” here crackles the memory of a poem by Juan Carlos Flores.) An invitation to rape. To vomit. To live that which is evil (but without a trace of vaudeville, please: we’re speaking of an incredible hyper-realistic mirror). Push, sweat, give birth to nothing, abort almost an hour of underworld snorts, turn around. Turn a harness inside out.

The Havanothing or Satan Clara: cynical cities unrecognizable in a minimal set with background noise from Radio Encyclopedia, a station that incarnated better than Cuban TV’s Roundtables the discreet charm of the proletariat.

Rhapsody or, rather, Rhapsodium for domesticated animals of the contemporary Cuban street. Not necessarily the megametaphorical mule of José Lezama Lima with that “sure step (…) into the abyss” under a “load of lead,” although “glassy, short-sighted,” moving its “portable lamp (…) of some horror or another” on his “four feet.”

Quadriplegia. Much less would be that enchanted nineteenth deer that would be the delight the Historian of the City. No. The romance has fallen by its own weight before the idiocy (and who knows if the ideology). Memory is factual here. Dirty nouns tossed in a Tareco Plan of the XXI century: family, faith, future, fidelity. Be cultured to be crappy. Cuba fits into any pot.

It stinks. And yet, it hurts you. This song of the wounded invokes some of the most beautiful images that will be remembered over the noisy rhetoric of the Revolution in the year, say, 2059.

Extirpated from the work Galiano Varieties of the group itself, this micro-mispronounced-monologue (the character is very probably missing teeth), deeply moves a corner of El Vedado in a packed room over the last weeks. Every mise-en-scene of The Enchanted Deer leaves the same fear in the chest, this other impossible to translate into words, an ill-defined unease of farewell. Something ends here every night, although we still don’t know how to say what.

July 21 2012