Review: Goodman Theatre's Encore Streaming of PEDRO PARÁMO (2013)

Stream FREE Through April 11, 2021 at

By: Mar. 31, 2021

Review: Goodman Theatre's Encore Streaming of PEDRO PARÁMO (2013)

Although I don't often preface my reviews, I think this particular write-up deserves one. As I reflect on my viewing of Goodman Theatre's current Encore showing of PEDRO PARÁMO, I find it important to note that I'm writing about a production that took place eight years ago. The Goodman presented Cuban theater company Teatro Buendía's PEDRO PARÁMO in 2013, in association with the Museum of Contemporary Art.

The immense theatricality and experimental nature of Teatro Buendía's production make clear why this was a fitting co-production between the Goodman, the MCA, and Teatro Buendía. And the Goodman's decision to allow audiences to revisit (or experience for the first time) an international theater collaboration feels poignant at this time. The chance to see this collaboratively produced piece feels like both a nostalgic exercise and one that reminds us of the hope for such kinds of artistic collaborations in the future.

Written by Raquel Carrío and directed by Flora Lauten, PEDRO PARÁMO is a theatrical adaption of Mexican author Juan Rolfo's novel of the same name. The cast includes both local Chicago performers and Cuban actors, which adds to the excitement of the collaboration. Chicago theater regulars will likely recognize Goodman Theatre Artistic Collective member Henry Godinez, Charín Alvarez, and Sandra Delgado among the cast members - all formidable performers who do excellent work here. It centers on a young man named Juan Preciado, who ventures to the Mexican town of Comala after seeing visions of his late mother in his dreams. She urges him to visit Comala and inquire about his father, the titular Pedro Parámo. Based on the fact that Juan shares with the audience that he can feel his mother's voice calling to him, we have the sense that PEDRO PARÁMO exists in a liminal space.

Lauten's production itself is similarly ethereal. Though the narrative tells us the story takes place in the town of Comala, the production does not feel grounded in any tangible physical space. Rather the production design itself feels ethereal in every sense, creating an aesthetic that's overall eerie and dreamlike. This also befits the parallel narratives of Juan and his father Pedro, who both seem in a state of transition. Juan appears so because he's looking for answers to his family's history, while Pedro himself seems unmoored in life and in love - hardened by his past.

This ethereal aesthetic is particularly interesting and unique. The production overall feels experimental, and the specific choices and experimentation with different presentational styles is a beautiful reminder of what live theater can uniquely offer to audiences. Teatro Buendía's production choices are not the kind of aesthetic we could find in a streaming series or through other art forms - it's a lovely reminder of what I miss so much about live theater and what I anticipate upon its return.

PEDRO PARÁMO blends spoken dialogue and song. Although the song elements convey narrative points, the music is more like a critical piece of the production's aesthetic. It contributes to the eerie vibe, and the production often shifts abruptly between dialogue and song. Similarly, PEDRO PARÁMO seems to flit from vignette to vignette. Again, this adds to the production's eerie qualities, but that also makes it a bit difficult at times to sink your teeth into the narrative focus. But perhaps that might be intentional - both Juan and Pedro seem adrift, and the production underscores that transitional state.

The ensemble works together to further enhance the production's dreamlike state, often appearing as a collective, otherworldly unit. In the title role, Godinez is captivating and embodies Pedro's hardened, uneasy state. Sandor Menéndez makes Juan an immensely affable character, though sometimes he seems a bit too relaxed considering all the character is experiencing. As Pedro's most significant love interest Susana, Alvarez is the embodiment of grace.

In terms of film quality, PEDRO PARÁMO was also a wise choice on the Goodman's part. The archival quality is solid, and the film capturing provides a good mix of wide shots that allow viewers to see the entire set and also intimate close-ups that focus on the actors. I anticipate that as we navigate the post-pandemic theater world, many organizations will start to focus on producing high-quality archival for footage. For now, the Goodman was smart to pick this particular title.

The transitory feel of PEDRO PARÁMO also makes it a timely choice. As we start to imagine what the "new normal" make look like over a year into the pandemic and hope for the return of live theater productions, PEDRO PARÁMO's melding of past and present feels prescient.

Goodman Theatre's Encore of PEDRO PARÁMO streams FREE through April 11. Visit to reserve your complimentary e-ticket.

Review by Rachel Weinberg


Kokandy Productions Presents THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL, June 22 – September 3 At The Cho Photo
Kokandy Productions Presents THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL, June 22 – September 3 At The Chopin Theatre

This summer, dive into Bikini Bottom as Kokandy Productions kicks off its 2023 season with Nickelodeon's The SpongeBob Musical, directed by JD Caudill, playing June 22 – September 3, 2023 at The Chopin Studio Theatre, 1543 W. Division St. in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood.

Free Citywide Celebration MAKE MUSIC CHICAGO Returns June 21st For 12th Season Photo
Free Citywide Celebration MAKE MUSIC CHICAGO Returns June 21st For 12th Season

Classical Music Chicago spreads the beauty of music in multiple series, including the one-day fete of the musician within us all. Begun in summer 2011, Make Music Chicago is a citywide DIY music festival that invites and draws together people throughout the community in a celebration of music making, no holds barred. Age, ability, professional or amateur, preferred musical style or genre are not of import - all that matters is a love for music and musicmaking.

Random Acts to Launch Season of Festivals This Month Featuring RED RIBBONS OF LOVE & M Photo
Random Acts to Launch Season of Festivals This Month Featuring RED RIBBONS OF LOVE & More

Random Acts will launch a season of festivals on Saturday, June 10th, with a celebratory event at the Flat Iron Arts Building in Wicker Park.

Lifeline Theatre Holds Annual BIPOC Adaptation Development Showcase Photo
Lifeline Theatre Holds Annual BIPOC Adaptation Development Showcase

Lifeline Theatre will Showcase Desi Moreno-Penson's work-in-development, El Bacalao: The Catfish Man(based on Euripides' “The Bacchae”), directed by Ruben Carrazana, on Friday, July 14 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, July 15 at 2:30 p.m.; and Brandon Zang's work-in-development Nuwa In Fairyland, directed by Helen Young on Saturday, July 15 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, July 16 at 2:30 p.m. at Lifeline Theatre,  6912 N. Glenwood Ave.

From This Author - Rachel Weinberg

Chicago native Rachel Weinberg has been one of the most frequent contributing editors and critics for BroadwayWorld Chicago since joining the team in 2014. She is a marketing professional specialized ... (read more about this author)


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