Sexual Comedy Makes a Point

July 1, 2005

THERE is a point thinly veiled underthe huge sheet, not obscured by the actorsin their underpants. Mexican screenwriterand playwright Humberto Robles proselytizesa broader definition of what is sexuallyacceptable in his comedy, “ElOrnitorrinco” (The Platypus).The play, now showing at ElSemáforo, the Spanish-language movietheater, café, library and stage theater, is inveteran Mexican actor and directorGabriel Retes’ hands, who draped thescript with Costa Rican idiosyncrasies andis presenting it in his adopted country athis two-year-old venue.THE stage is a colossal mattress coveredin a sheet under which varying combinationsof the four characters moan andromp at the beginning of each of the fouracts.With an unknown pair in the throes ofpassion under the sheet, a longhairedMauricio (Diego Chaverri), the gay friendof the play’s only female character, Ana(alternately played by Andrea Sandoval andJahel Palmero, depending on the night),reads from Ana’s thesis paper on the discoveryof the duck-billed platypus. Hisbrief dissertations are shot through withwhimpers from the lovers under the sheet,which obviate any hope of listening toevery word of the platypus report.After he leaves, the couple, whicheverit might be, emerges, and a dialogue reminiscentof college-kid bar talk ensues.The characters are caught in the evolutionof their sexual tendencies, confusedand willing to experiment, tacking theirconfusions to the theme of the biological category-flouting platypus.ANA and Paco (Carlos Macias) havebeen together for years as a couple whenCarlos mentions the possibility of openingthe relationship to other lovers. Ana reactswith a vehement “no,” but, by act two, sheis squirming under the sheet with Paco’sbest friend David (Pablo Morales).Meanwhile, Paco is flirting with bisexualityand wondering if he is more interested inmen than in women.Conversation runs the gamut frommonogamy to homo- and bisexuality,beginning with a discussion of erotic fantasiesand ending in an orgy. But it is notdone without tact – this is not pornography,after all, writer Robles is quick to point out.“It’s not visually aggressive; it’s subtle,”Robles told The Tico Times.There is nudity, but no sexual touching.What is seen seems rendered more as avehicle for the characters’ conversationsthan as eye candy.“It’s a discussion of freedom, in thiscase sexual freedom, that allows each personto do what they want,” Robles said.“Homosexuality and bisexuality cannot bedefined… they defy categories, like theplatypus.”If the traditional concept of the familyremains entrenched, “we’re fried,” headded.THE play is coming off a year-and-ahalfrun in three Mexico City theaters andis also scheduled to open in Montevideo,Uruguay, and Monterrey, Mexico.Director and El Semáforo owner Retesis an internationally acclaimed actor, lastappearing in the award-winning CostaRican feature-length film “Caribe.”Show times are Fridays and Saturdaysat 8 p.m. at El Semáforo, off San Pedro’sfamous college club strip, Calle LaAmargura, east of downtown San José. Formore information, call El Semáforo at 253-9126 or visit the play’s Web site,www.geocities.com/elornitorrincomx.

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