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updated 5:28 PM UTC, Feb 24, 2017

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Mexican Pepper Spray

The prolific Mexican playwright, Emilio Carballido's, "I Too Speak of the Rose", a forceful montage of realistic and dreamlike sequences wrapped around a multi-layered plot, recently had its Washington DC debut at GALA Theatre where it will be performed through February 26th. It is a fine example of his theatrical legacy and one of his most popular works. In as much as it is stylistically and thematically central to his vision and message it is a key component of modern Mexican theatre, studied and performed with frequency across the country.
Carballido's work is known for its soliloquies and asides, its multi-textured plots and its social realism juxtaposed in this play with dreamlike, magical elements. Indeed, an abstract, intellectual form of social realism permeates his writing. "... Rose" is no different. Through the prism of an accidental train wreck the actors explore all the 'alternate facts' created by the event and how various sectors of Mexican society view the tragedy.
    A pair of teenagers, ably played by Sharon Desiree (Toña) and Steven Soto (Paolo), precipitate a tragic train wreck that repeats itself throughout the play followed by various interpretations of the result that highlight the teenager's poverty, insecurity, amorality and/or sexual naiveté. All these interpretations are meant to be a statement about contemporary Mexican reality. Weaved in and out of the play is a Medium performed by Julieta Egurrola, who functions at times as a prophetic witch, Greek chorus, bad omen or vestal virgin. Her soliloquies and asides are at times philosophic, mesmerizing and sometimes downright frightening, especially when combined with the booming, crashing sounds of a train wreck which had audiences bouncing in their seats from the sheer intensity of the decibels, as if the audience were being lambasted with Mexican pepper spray!
    Hugo Medrano has returned to direct what appears to be one of his favorite authors. In as much as the piece clearly tries to explain something about the state of Mexican society and the problems and contradictions that exist there, it can be said that this is a purview of the conditions of our current political reality. Nothing is at it seems and everything can be converted or, more accurately perverted, to whatever viewpoint you wish to consider real.  
    Performed Thursdays through Sundays, click on galatheatre for further details.

Joselito Casa de Comidas new Spanish restaurant on Capitol Hill

There is a new Spanish restaurant on Capitol Hill with the original title of, "Joselito; Casa de Comidas". It is a sparse, airy space with simple marble tables and first hand view of Pennsylvania Ave. The owner is Javier Candon who also owns SER Restaurant in Arlington. The concept is a menu of Spanish staples served in a nouveau cuisine style. Spain's rich culinary scene has given way to a great many modern variations of typical Spanish food. At Joselito there are Sardines in a frothy cream sauce and 'boquerones en vinagre' (small sardines in vinegar) covered in a tapenade which includes mushrooms and olives. We also tasted a very modern version of 'huevos rotos' (broken eggs) served in Spain with french fries, here with grilled baby shrimp.

    The basics are pretty good. the smoked Iberian ham ("Jamon de Bellota") shaved thin and served with bread sticks was exquisite and the lamb chops in a wine sauce were superb (albeit a bit overpriced). The new space, less than one block from Eastern Market, just opened a few weeks ago and promises to be a very popular Capitol Hill destination. We enjoyed the wait staff although were well aware that, having just opened, there are still kinks to be worked out. We ordered from the extensive tapa menu and wanted to save the lamb for last and yet it was served the other way around. We had to ask them to keep the lamb waiting. The fresh vegetable tapa of raw asparagus, cauliflower and squash came with a green sauce that had very little taste, would have been better without it.

    Nevertheless, it was quite a culinary experience and adds to the variety of top quality, first class dining choices for Spanish restaurants in DC. We wish "Joselito..." well and promise to return for another meal. Look them up at www.joselitodc.com.

SOPLA, Lizana's Delightful Jazz & Flamenco Show

Spain Arts & Culture (www.spainculture.us), a new and rising force in Spain's cultural diplomacy arsenal, is putting together an unprecedented calendar of performances throughout the United States in 2017. Here in Washington they've been active for some time at the 'Former Residence of the Ambassadors of Spain', a distinguished mansion on 16th St. NW which is ideal as an exhibit space and includes an intimate performance venue and lovely patio for cocktail receptions as well. Spain/culture.us has grown into an interesting force for the promotion of cutting edge architecture and design, photography and art exhibits, literary soirees and plenty of classical and popular music from Spain.

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