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Reflections: Diciembre – Teatro en el Blanco @ Brisbane Powerhouse

Diciembre is a near future fable of love, war, patriotic duty and familial love.

Set in not too distant future, Chile is at war with both Bolivia and Peru in a seemingly repeat of the War of the Pacific.

A brother home for Christmas is confronted by his pregnant twin sisters each with their own plans for his future. The older (i think) wants him to fulfil his patriotic duty and kill as many of the opposition as he can, while his younger sister, wants him to run away, flee the army and find refuge in the South.

It’s brave work. Not least because it was not so long under the Regime of Pinochet ago that such a work would not have been possible.

In as much as can be said about the world of the play then, it seems to inhabit a time and a people doomed to make the mistakes of the past. And perhaps because of this it is a half-constructed world not meant to fully capture a national mood or present a realistic future, but instead present a frame through which to examine the present – our own feelings, and desires.

This is quite excellent theatrical enterprise, lifting a relatively straightforward family drama into the realm of something special. A space where racism, nationalism, humanism, pacifism and Christmas collide and in doing so allow us to think about who we are.

For all it’s seriousness, though Diciembre is at times a funny and joyous work, with characters twisting themselves into knots trying to get their way, and a text (even through translation) that takes joy in the inanity and weakness of people as much as their strengths.

Problematically, for this presentation, the subtitle is placed just above the primary light source – a Christmas tree esque hanging light-bulb installation – as shown in the picture. Annoyingly after some 20 minutes or so of watching my eyes started to water from having to look at the light straight on. It was either do this or look away and miss what was being said on the sur-titles.

This grievance aside, Diciembre was an exhilarating work in the best sense making me remember all that I love about theatre.

Show watched as apart of WTF2011 @ The Brisbane Powerhouse.

For those that can read Spanish read more here, Teatro en el Blanco

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