ADVERTISING AT CURTAINUP
Short Term Listings
BOOKS and CDs
LETTERS TO EDITOR
A CurtainUp Review
All Eyes and Ears
Carmen (Terumi Matthews) is a seamstress who has been appointed head of the block committee and given a lovely, newly evacuated house with five working toilets, two of which can be flushed at the same time. Carmen's daughter, Yolanda (Christina Pumariega), is delighted with the new state of affairs. She is learning all about the revolution at school, and she has a Russian pen pal who becomes an adored object of her romantic fantasies. Better yet, she can take possession of all the gorgeous dresses the former young lady of the house left behind. But Carmen's husband, Emilio (Martin Sola), is riddled with guilt over what his family has done and skepticism over what the Castro government is doing. Eventually he starts hearing and seeing strange happenings and he becomes convinced the house is haunted by its former, probably deceased, occupants.
Carmen and Emilio grow further and further apart, until Carmen accuses Emilio of infidelity. In the meantime, Carmen becomes more embroiled in Cuban politics. She is wined and dined by Alvaro (Liam Torres), her handler, and Stepan (Ed Vassallo), one of Cuba's newly arrived Russian diplomats. The conflict keeps building until the inevitable explosion.
Although All Eyes and Ears certainly has a political and social message, it is at heart a family drama. There is never any question of whether the family is going to solve Cuba's problems, but there is some hope that parents and daughter will resolve their difference and become a whole, functioning family again. And that's precisely why the drama doesn't work.
Director Eduardo Machado, one can assume with the help of his casting director, Billy Hopkins, has put together a group of actors who, except for one or two, are totally miscast. Sola is much too young for the part and looks more like Yolanda's brother than her father. What's worse, he acts like it too. For most of the play he is more petulant than principled. He keeps having fits of despair and anguish, but is unable to take any action. Matthews treats him like the child he is and then wonders why he won't sleep with her. Who can blame him? He's probably afraid of her.
As for Pumariega, even in the 21st century she's more than the daughter from hell, she's the daughter from hell on steroids. It's hard to imagine any Cuban family in the 1960s tolerating a teenager as disobedient and spoiled as this quintessential brat.
In order to take the plight of the family seriously, we have to take the family seriously. And with such unbelievable and wrongheaded performances, this is pretty much impossible. Michael Bevins' over-the-top designer clothing doesn't help a bit.
Ironically, the best performance is turned in by Vassallo. Stepan is cynical, lecherous and something of a buffoon in exactly the way one suspects the Russians appeared to the Cubans. After the inane interactions of the family, one almost comes to like him.
All Eyes and Ears has a wonderful premise. Unfortunately the play does not survive its production.
Try onlineseats.com for great seats to
The Little Mermaid
Shrek The Musical
Leonard Maltin's 2008 Movie Guide
Playbill 2007-08 Yearbook