CATIVO (Guest review)

This is a guest review by Lois Patterson, friend of Hummingbird604.com and all-around great person!

I, with my friend and fellow local-theatre aficionado (Matt Ross of FreeLunchRealEstate.com), attended the preview performance of CATIVO (Hardline Productions). Like several local theatre companies with great talent but low budgets, Hardline Productions has found a small space and tailored their productions to work well within that space.

The synopsis is that Rodrigo, a Brazilian cab driver, who has emigrated to an unnamed North American city, has a fateful and random reunion with a passenger, a former American serviceman named Jason Weights, whom he believes tortured him for days in Rio de Janeiro. This chance encounter leads to Jason being imprisoned in an insulated, soundproof chamber in Rodrigo’s uncle’s butcher shop. Through both physical and psychological means, Rodrigo seeks resolution for the torture he suffered.

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Credit: Andrew Kournitskiy

The theme of the tortured victim confronting his or her torturer recurs in literature and real life. The recent film Incendio, the Eichmann trial, pedophila victims confronting their assailants in court, are all examples. There’s a sense of cosmic rightness, a chance to flip the scales. None of these cases, though, feature a torture victim who has absolute godlike control over his purported torturer.

The torture scenes are gripping. They cannot accurately represent actual torture, but they are evocative enough to be highly disturbing. Two people who live together for hours and days, as Jason and Rodrigo do, develop a bond of sorts, despite the ugliness of the connection. They engage in a pas de deux, as each seeks something from the other. Each becomes the other’s entire world during the time they are together.  The intimate venue makes the audience immediate spectators to these developments.

Jason has flashbacks to his drill sergeant days. Perhaps because the figure of the American drill sergeant is so pervasive and iconic, I perceived echoes of the drill sergeant from Neil Simon’s Biloxi Blues. The US military concept of the human intelligence collector who uses highly developed techniques to extract information (more here) is explored. Jason finds himself on both sides of this intelligence collection equation. Anyone interested in reputed US military involvement in training official Latin American torturers can Google “School of the Americas”.

In the 55-minute production, which seemed to pass in a flash, there was time to raise numerous themes which could not be fully resolved. What does it mean to follow your father? Is it acceptable to wreak vengeance on someone who has tormented you? Is torture ever acceptable? If you torture someone who has tortured you, are you as bad as the original torturer, who himself was likely tortured at some point? How is it that human connections develop, in the most unlikely circumstances?

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Credit: Andrew Kournitskiy

There are elements of ambiguity in this play. I’m not sure I completely understood it. But just as it’s difficult to know all aspects of the truth in a geopolitical situation, that is also true in human relationships.

The production company of Hardline Theatre Productions wrote, directed, produced, and acted the play. Several are graduates of Langara’s Studio 58, which continues to produce excellent thespians. The experience of the play is so absorbing that minor quibbles are forgotten.

This is the third Hardline Theatre production that I have seen, and all have been thought-provoking, intensely well-acted, and absolutely worth the time to see. It’s easy and inexpensive to support your local artists–go out and see CATIVO!


Disclaimer: Although it was free preview night, Lois and her friend made a modest donation, and also bought beers. There was no expectation of a review. Raul always has editorial control on the blog’s content.

About Lois Patterson: Lois Patterson enjoys travel, theatre, arts, and literature. She favours integration of science and humanities, and has a special weakness for mathematical interpretations of artistic phenomena. Her work in technical writing, software testing, and UI design is informed by this philosophy.

Related posts:

  1. Twice and Twice: The Tennessee Williams Project (guest review by @loisrp)
  2. Tuesdays with Morrie at @PacificTheatre (guest review by @loisrp)
  3. CATIVO by Hardline Productions
  4. Christmas on The Air (@PacificTheatre) – guest review by @niftynotcool
  5. Sexy Laundry (theatre review) – Guest post by @EmmeRogers

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