Playing Latinx by Guido Garcia Lueches – Camden People’s Theatre, London
Guido Garcia Lueches is not Mexican. Nor is he Peruvian. Nor Puerto Rican. Nor the emotional Latinx (pronounced Latinks) type people expect. This does not stop him playing all those parts as an actor, in the guise of either fighter, lover or comic relief. Guido’s one-man show tackles the experience of the Latinx performer in the UK, where these stereotypes cover people from “one and a half continents”. Fellow actors and casting directors can be anything from clumsy to rude, and rarely see Latinx actors as people but as a distinct, controllable type. “I was white before I came here”, says Guido, in typically understated but piercing aside.
Although the show deals with some sobering themes about our not-so-post-colonial attitudes, it does so with enormous humour and grace. Guido is a superbly engaging performer, who has the audience at his mercy from the start. Humour is his medium, and he loves to work with the audience. Ostensibly delivering a seminar in how to be a stereotypical Latinx in a ludicrous accent, he is constantly interrupted by calls from his agent to attend auditions, for sexy pool cleaners, gang members, revolutionaries, and samba dancers. Each time, the agent is played by an audience member who has to occupy the casting chair on stage before the show can continue. By the end, half the audience has been on stage, while the other half has become involved in other ways – and everyone seems to be enjoying it hugely.
Playing Latinx makes neat use of light touch stage techniques such as these, but it is Guido who makes it all work. He is the kind of performer you are happy to trust because his motives are clear. He has written a piece of smart, funny and reflective entertainment that will send you home delighted with what you’ve discovered. Whether he ever gets to play “Ricardo Tres”, as he puts it, is another matter but Guido deserves big audiences for a standout piece of fringe theatre.