Laughter is something that the Edinburgh Fringe is certainly not short of, comedy is a part of its beating heart, something that people go to the festival for. But not all comedy productions set out with the sole purpose of making you laugh. In Playing Latinx, a solo show by Guido Garcia Lueches, comedy is used as a tool to convey an important message in a way that both entertains and educates.
Taking place in Cairns Lecture Theatre, Summerhall, Playing Latinx takes the form of a self help talk setting out to teach the audience how to unleash their inner Latinx. Combining audience interaction and music with acted segments recreating the sort of auditions that Lueches has attended over the years, this production picks at the casting system and makes the audience question it. We see how Lueches has been pigeonholed into portraying humiliating and harmful stereotypes of their Latin American culture in order to be cast; the lover, the fighter, the comic relief. Through these audition scenes, there are moments of realisation for the audience. We know these characters, these stereotypical portrayal of Latin Americans, we’ve seen them on screens and stage, we have loved and hated them. And this production all whilst enjoying the comedy forces us to realise that behind these characters is a real performer who is being directed to play to the stereotype, to be what we expect to see rather than themselves.
Throughout Lueches is able to expertly combine comedy with a brutal honesty, inviting audiences to play casting directors teaching them to see what is wrong in the situation and whilst allowing them to laugh, asking them why they are doing so. Behind the music, the silliness, the comedy, there is an important message, the idea that a performer can be seen only as their culture, the colour of their skin, their background, an character created by others rather than themselves, instead of by their talent and by who they truly are.
There is a party feeling in the room, a sense of both audience and performer being in this together. Lueches is warm and inviting, welcoming with open arms as they tell their story through creative sketches and scenes. But this is a party that will make you think, make you realise what performers such as Lueches face in their careers and the ability to do so must be celebrated. This is a show that will make you laugh out loud, you will leave the room with a smile on your face and a song in your head, but also with a feeling of we must do better.
In an incredible display of comedy and storytelling skills combined, Lueches is able to portray their story effortlessly. One moment they are teaching the audience to be more Latinx, more emotional and laughing themselves at the ideas associated with their culture, the next they are gently guiding us into understanding the harsh realities. A clever beautifully put together piece of thought provoking theatre that is both highly entertaining and eye opening.
Playing Latinx plays at Summerhall until 27th August, tickets are available here https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/playing-latinx