Review: PLAYING LATINX, Soho Theatre

The production is a reflective piece on what it means to be Latinx in the UK

By: Apr. 15, 2024
Review: PLAYING LATINX, Soho Theatre
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Review: PLAYING LATINX, Soho Theatre

“I’m here to audition for the part of ‘Sexy Mexican’”

Walking into the Soho Theatre Upstairs, you are given a nametag before taking your seat. Interestingly enough, Playing Latinx has the same start as Derren Brown’s Unbelievable on the West End, with a chair on stage and a sign stating, “The show will start once someone sits on this chair.” One brave audience member takes the seat and, indeed, the show begins. 

Written and performed by Guido García Lueches, Playing Latinx is a fascinating mix of casting calls, seminars and internal monologues about what it means to be Latinx, particularly in the United Kingdom. García Lueches first appears on stage to audition for the role of “Sexy Mexican,” speaking to the audience member in the chair as if they are a casting director, desperately trying to fit into the stereotypical role. Things taken a sudden turn, however, when a spotlight is shone on García Lueches and he reveals what he is really thinking through spoken word.

Along with the casting calls, García Lueches also plays a character who is presenting a seminar entitled “How to Be A Successful Latinx.” Using Practice-Based Learning, he will teach audience members from all backgrounds how to create their own Latinx background, with a commonly-heard saying being “ The Latinx person is emotional.” As García Lueches claims, “No one cares about the facts,” and we are encouraged to make up things in order to appear more Latinx. In order to switch between the seminar and casting calls, García Lueches receives a phone call from his agent, making a comment on what is to come before going backstage to prepare for yet another audition. 

The more serious moments are interesting looks at how society, particularly the arts community, views Latinx people, who then tend to conform to how society wants them to behave in order to fit in. There are, as García Lueches states, “masks all over,” and he illustrates these through taking part in auditions that require him to be either a “lover, fighter or comic relief,” often taking on a culture that is not his own, including one where he must pretend to be Cuban and another where he is a “salsa-tango dancer.” 

Songs between the scenes include “Despacito,” “Macaraena” and “Hips Don’t Lie,” all of which have the audience humming and dancing along. We are also taught a song that sums up what García Lueches calls “the universal Latinx culture” - Shakira, tequila, burrito and sombrero. García Lueches is also joined by an unnamed and unseen person behind the curtain who assists him in between scenes, passing along props like chairs and easels and even throwing some confetti at different times!

Throughout the show, there is a heavy amount of audience participation. García Lueches encourages audience members to take out their phone and take notes during the “seminar” sections of the show, also asking some people if they’d done the reading for the course ahead of time. One audience member is given a new Latinx name and three others are given the responsibility of portrarying the three basic Latinx emotions of rage, seduction and confusion. A new audience member comes in for each casting call, reading off of a script and participating in dance calls and other audition-related activities.

There are some awkward moments in which the audience sits in silence, waiting for someone to take the empty spot before one brave soul allows the show to continue. 

Playing Latinx is a great and reflective piece on what it means to be Latinx in the UK, particularly as an actor trying to find a role that lets one be themself. García Lueches is a fantastic writer and performer, making for a fascinating hour of both laughs and serious moments.

Playing Latinx ran from 10 to 13 April at Soho Theatre.


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