Casanova and Madonna, Together at Last

Article excerpt

The idea of putting Casanova, the legendary lover, and Madonna, the pop singer and sex symbol, together in the same play is funny all by itself. But can a writer go political with such a pair?

That seems to be the intention of Puerto Rican playwright Roberto Ramos-Perea in "Mistiblu," which gets its American premiere in the Spanish-language Teatro de la Luna's production at the Gunston Arts Center.

Casanova (Mario Marcel, in a characteristically impish performance) comes to Puerto Rico in search of the Count of St. Germain, who has fashioned a potion called mistiblu ("misty blue"). One drop can add 100 years to whoever drinks it; the aging Casanova, who wants his youth and virility restored, is desperate for a swig of the magical stuff.

St. Germain (played with a pompous glower by Hector Jimenez) won't give it to him, however. St. Germain no longer believes in life; he drank five drops of mistiblu a few centuries back and is now tired and cynical. On top of that, he and Casanova have a dispute that goes way back, so the great lover's chances of copping a drop or two of mistiblu are slim, despite his begging tantrums.

How does Madonna fit into this? The material girl, acted with the requisite pouts, leers and self-caresses by Mary Teresa Fortuna, seems to function as one corner of the playwright's triangle of vanity. But she also seems to be a stand-in for the frivolous youthfulness of the Americas. There is an allegory of Puerto Rico in here somewhere; you can hear it in the disparaging rhetorical banter that Casanova and St. Germain (Europeans, it should be noted) slip into when they aren't squabbling over the potion.

The playwright takes the audience's familiarity with his country for granted, so there isn't a lot of context for his commentary, though its critical tone is evident in references to "this island of hell" and statements like "their motto is to die having a good time. …