POST: 'Dona Flor y sus dos Maridos' - comedy so familiar to my childhood
What's it about?
A women's tale about being in love -twice.
What'd I experience?
Two months and a snow storm later I have finally seen Dona Flor y sus dos Maridos.
I was a bit more worried than excited to go see this play, because it was in Spanish (although it takes place in Brazil). Yet the more I spoke with my mum about it the more her excitement rubbed off on me. This would be her first Off Broadway show ever and what made it even more epic for her was the fact that the lead actor was telenovela star Francisco Gattorno.
Now, I grew up watching Telenovelas - Mexican ones - alongside my mother every weeknight. It’s actually a huge reason why my Spanish improved at all. Even now watching novelas is one of the only things she and I do as a way of bonding. So, naturally when I heard of Dona Flor y sus dos Maridos my mother was the first person that popped into my head. What better than to take her to what essentially could be a live telenovela?
To say she was excited that day would be an understatement, from the moment the tickets were confirmed to walking into the theatre, I could tell how new this was for her. It’s gonna be a corny comparison, but looking at her was like watching Alice after she discovered Wonderland. She had this smile on her face and was looking at every little thing in the theatre, and when I expected her to ask me questions about the show she turned and told me, “I’m getting a picture with him (Gattorno), right?” She is so deep. I assured her I would do everything I could to get her to meet him, because honestly for her I would.
Once we got our tickets, which my mum said ‘Fancy, Ms.Gordon’ since the tickets were reserved at the box office, when finally being lead to our seat the man actually asked me if I needed headphones in order to hear the show’s translation….this is my life. I told him I actually spoke Spanish and if at any point I was confused I had my mum with me, which earned another shocked expression, because again that’s just my life.
When the beloved telenovela star came out singing (and very shirtless) my mother grabbed my arm and just kept repeating “That’s him! That’s him! It’s really Francisco! Ahh!” I think I still have her nail indents on my arm. I swear I didn’t even see her this excited for the Pope. That’s just what telenovela stars do to people. Now, because I’m used to watching shows with predominantly white crowds, there seems to be unwritten rules about theater etiquette - like being quiet during a show or just gently clapping when someone makes an appearance on stage. Yeah, that’s like so not a thing with Hispanic people. The people were so responsive, there was no attempt to try to contain one's excitement, if anything it fed into the atmosphere of the show. What surprised me even further was the fact that no staff ever told people to quiet down, it almost felt like it was encouraged.
My mother didn’t even come close to falling asleep. Which is a huge sign to just how much she loved every minute of this play (as well as every inch of Francisco Gattorno’s naked body). The play itself was so different from anything I have ever seen. I thought I’d seen really raunchy things, but no Dona Flor takes the cake. The only way my mum and I were able to explain it was real life comedy. It was the type of humor you’d have with a brother, sister, mother, boyfriend, or husband. Dona Flor was a saucy woman who unfortunately loses her first husband, the love of her life but also a deadbeat, and is encouraged by her comadres (girl-friends) to get back out there. My mum said she loved how Flor went through all the stages a women would really go through to find love again. She has what can be explained as a second sexual awakening, which including scenes that had my mum and I in tears. Our favorite was the sexual cooking class, where Flor taught women from her town to make a magical soup that will get them a man. As the kitchen got hotter so did the women, as they stirred their pots Flor went on a rant about having sexual needs and so began the sexually frustrated moans and groans. Surprisingly, not as weird as watching the sex scenes in the telenovelas with my mum.
At intermission we chatted up two women (also mother and daughter) sitting behind us. It was so bizarre because they were they were so much like us. They were both white (not like us), but the daughter actually spoke Spanish and the mother only spoke English. My mum was the one who started talking - with her limited English knowledge - and then quickly pulled me into the conversation. We ended up talking for the entire 15 minute intermission as I was clearing up some details for the mother who fell victim to the Spanish translation. That was so dramatic, sorry. All she got confused with was the non-linear format that the play began in, because I watch novelas I know that they love showing someone die and then work their way to revealing how that character died. It was also really cool seeing how awesome the woman thought it was that telenovela star Francisco Gattorno was in the show.
The rest of our time was spent laughing at Gattorno’s very firm naked butt and enjoying the dramatic comedy that was so familiar to my childhood. I had gone in thinking that if English was someone’s only language this show would probably be a pain to watch, but even without the headphone translations I can’t imagine someone not enjoying the sheer madness and hilarity that was Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands.
And yes, she did get a picture. And no, I’m not adopted.