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Blue Box Review

February 28, 2013

If you are lucky, you know someone who has the ability to “tell a good story,” as they say, in a way that makes this person the life of the party when you’re entertaining at home. That’s exactly how it feels to be sitting in the Templeton Studio Cabaret at Globe Theatre while Carmen Aguirre performs her solo show Blue Box.

Now, the language is a bit spicier than you’re likely to hear in your living room (I assume), and Aguirre is a talented writer and actor, which puts her several notches above even the most engaging amateur raconteur. There is also the fact that she’s the daughter of parents who were active in the resistance to military strongman Augusto Pinochet, who ruled Chile as a dictator, from 1973 to 1990.Carmen

But you get the idea.

Aguirre had my attention from the first sentence to the last, and that’s no small feat, because she was working without … well, she was working with practically nothing except facial expressions, physical gestures, and articulation. Minimalist doesn’t begin to describe it. The set consists of a bar stool, a disco ball, and a projection screen. But these are used only for small portions of the show. Mostly, it’s just Aguirre, an attractive woman who appears in a sleeveless blouse, jeans, and boots with high heels. Aguirre and her stories, that is. Stories is the operative word here.

Blue Box consists of two stories. They are woven together seamlessly. One is no more (or less) important than the other, and Aguirre goes back and forth. Far be it from me to spoil surprises by revealing details of the plots, but it’s safe enough to say the first story concerns a young woman who wears her sexuality on her sleeve and also her heart, a fledgling actress who meets a handsome but insensitive Chicano actor in Los Angeles and proceeds to have a torrid fling. The second story deals with resistance to the Pinochet regime in Chile, and it’s important to note that this is, in fact, a story, not a lecture.

Not that you would know it, but the show runs 90 minutes. There is no intermission, and the only interruptions to the narrative occur when Aguirre asks a volunteer from the audience to join her onstage for a demonstration of what it might feel like to be followed on foot and later when she extends an invitation to dance the salsa, everyone is welcome.

All of this, you understand, is a result of a book the Vancouver-based Aguirre published in 2011, Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter. It would have remained a book, had it not been commissioned as a script by Nightswimming (of Toronto) and developed into a stage show. The show has since received public workshops in Toronto at Almeda Theatre and Buddies In Bad Times Theatre, as well as in Calgary (Alberta Theatre Projects) and Vancouver (Neworld Theatre).

Produced by Rupal Shah, Blue Box is directed by Brian Quirt, artistic director at Nightswimming, with design by Itai Erdal, lighting by Alia Stephen, and sound and original music by Joelysa Pankanea. The Globe Theatre production is stage managed by the one and only Esther Howie.

Blue Box runs from February 26 – March 3, 2013. Visit the Globe Theatre website for more details, cast information, and to purchase tickets.

Nick Miliokas is a freelance writer and editor based in Regina. You can reach him by email at rozenstern@rocketmail.com.

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