Looking for América review: Memory tells a different kind of truth

Federico Julián González’s effortlessly engaging solo performance is personal but also has deep political resonance

Federico Julián González in Looking for América

Federico Julián González in Looking for América

 

LOOKING FOR AMÉRICA   ★★★☆☆ 
Mermaid Arts Centre, Dublin

By most people’s accounts, Federico Julián González has lived an extraordinary life. When he was four, his family became political exiles from their native El Salvador. After travelling through a series of unstable South American countries, they settled in Cuba, although his parents, separately, returned to their country of origin, determined to fight for equality in their homeland. For González, however, this was just life, and as he relates his experiences from an empty stage, a red suitcase in his hand, he smiles nonchalantly, even sentimentally, at his own recollections. “History,” he says, “is written by people who weren’t there.” Memory tells a different kind of truth.

González’s 60-minute theatrical testimonial is shaped by six chapters, the titles of which echo his shrugged-shouldered approach to the more traumatic elements of his past. The journey that his story takes is both literal and metaphorical. Returning to Cuba for the first time since 1997, he embarks upon a tour of old haunts with his elderly mother, looking for the people he knew all those years ago, including the titular América. If there is a flaw in the well-structured script it is that Ameríca’s significance to Gonzalez’ story is not made clear enough, at either the beginning or the end.

Director Janet Moran gives González’s effortlessly engaging performance a physical energy. He shimmies across the stage to a Latin soundtrack between chapters, and playfully makes faces at archive footage of his mustachioed teenage self “gone feral”. However, the most striking moment is one of discomfort when, midway through the performance, González steps out of his own story to draw our attention to contemporary issues of migration and dispossession. It is a jolt, but a welcome, vital one; González’s story may be a personal one but it has deep political resonance with our own time too.

Run continues in Axis Ballymun October 10th, and Draiocht Arts Centre, October 15th. See dublintheatrefestival.ie

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.