Goodman Theatre presents DAUGHTER OF A CUBAN REVOLUTIONARY Review: Embodying Personal History

Goodman Theatre presents midwest premiere of DAUGHTER OF A CUBAN REVOLUTIONARY, running through October 13, 2019 as part of the third annual Destinos Festival.

Goodman Theatre DAUGHTER OF A CUBAN REVOLUTIONARY
Marissa Chibas in her one-woman tour de force performance of “Daughter of a Cuban Revolutionary” based on her true story at CalArts Center for New Performance Steve Gunther

Lights come up, and a projection illuminates the back screen. We are lost in images of water – moving deeper and deeper into its depths. Slowly Marissa Chibas enters the space, and as she turns towards the audience, she begins her story – one of a woman traveling in the Venezuelan Amazonia with a guide named Stanley. The story is full of light humor, even as we begin to grasp the truth of the matter, which is that Marissa is drowning and reaching for aid. The projected images continue to swirl as Marissa falls. As she falls deeper and deeper, we are suddenly flung into the past. Marissa is experiencing a near-death encounter, and over the 70-minutes that follow, we discover the past history that got her to that point and beyond.

Goodman Theatre presents Daughter of a Cuban Revolutionary

Written and performed by Marissa Chibas, the one-woman show focuses on three influential figures in Chibas’ life. First there is her father, Raul Chibas, who co-wrote the Cuban Revolution manifesto with Fidel Castro; then her uncle, Eddy Chibas, who was first in line for the 1951 presidency before his unfortunate, self-inflicted death; and finally, Dalia Chibas, the 1959 runner-up for Miss Cuba. The narrative is comprised of Marissa’s own personal memories intertwined with influential episodes from the lives of these three individuals – creating an in-depth glance at Marissa’s family history, and taking her right up until today.

Goodman Theatre DAUGHTER OF A CUBAN REVOLUTIONARY
Marissa Chibas in her one-woman tour de force performance of “Daughter of a Cuban Revolutionary” based on her true story at CalARts Center for New Performance. Steve Gunther

Clever Use of Design

Throughout the performance, Marissa weaves in and out of characters – assuming the roles of her father, uncle, and mother in order to share moments from their personal narratives. Marissa never leaves the stage but instead, grabs elements from props in the space to change characters.

Goodman Theatre DAUGHTER OF A CUBAN REVOLUTIONARY
Marissa Chibas in her one-woman tour de force performance of “Daughter of a Cuban Revolutionary” based on her true story at CalARts Center for New Performance. Steve Gunther

When Marissa becomes her Uncle Eddy, for example, video footage from his 1951 election consumes the screen in the back.  Then, as we get to know the real Eddy Chibas, we also witness Marissa putting on a white button-down shirt and glasses, embodying him on the stage below. As we hear Eddy give a speech, we see Marissa mouth the words alongside him. . Marissa creates a space in this moment for Eddy to speak for himself, and for us to witness the impact his journey has on his family straight into today.  In this writer’s view, the artistry acts not only as a creative reminder that Marissa is interacting with history, but also that it is important as much as possible to allow individuals to share their own stories

Moments of Joy

Much as one might expect from a story about the Cuban Revolution, Marissa’s family history has seen its fair share of hardship. However, she is also careful to shed light on moments of celebration – both in her family’s narratives as well as her own.

One especially sweet scene for this writer is when Marissa reflects on a time her parents decided to host a party. Her mother’s friends were going to take some time to teach young Marissa and her sister how to dance, and she could barely imagine anything more exciting. Marissa floats about the stage, reminiscing about her hopes to dance like a goddess. It is easy to see feel the enthusiasm in her voice and spirit as she describes this party. She then spots her parents dancing off in a corner, and notes:

“I see something I rarely see on their faces – joy.”

The scene is brief, but acts as a necessary reminder in the play. Every narrative has its ups and downs, and Marissa invites us  along for the ride of experiencing those twists and turns in her family history – both the hardships and the successes.

Goodman Theatre DAUGHTER OF A CUBAN REVOLUTIONARY
Marissa Chibas in her one-woman tour de force performance of “Daughter of a Cuban Revolutionary” based on her true story at CalArts Center for New Performance. Steve Gunther

Heartfelt and honest, Daughter of a Cuban Revolutionary is, in this writer’s opinion, an exciting installment in Chicago’s third Destinos Festival.

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Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read – Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.

When

Running through October 13, 2019

Thursday at 7:30pm
Friday at 8:00pm
Saturday at 2:00pm and 8:00pm
Sunday at 2:00pm

Where

Goodman Theatre
170 N. Dearborn St
Chicago, IL 60601

Tickets:

$20+

Check for Half-Price Deals from Hot Tix:

For full-priced tickets and ticket availability visit Goodman Theatre website, or call (312)-443-3800.

Photos: Steve Gunther

Note: Picture This Post reviews are excerpted by Theatre in Chicago

About the Author:

Lauren Katz is a freelance director and dramaturge, and new to the Chicago Theatre Scene. She recently moved from Washington DC, where she worked with Mosaic Theater Company of DC in Company Management, as well as directed around town with various theaters.

Click here to read more Picture this Post stories by Lauren Katz.

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