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Theatre Review Latin Lesson

LEO BOIX is thrilled by a vibrant theatre production that celebrates what it means to be a young British Latinx person navigating the inequalities of Tory Britain

My Uncle Is Not Pablo Escobar 
Brixton House

 

LATIN AMERICANS are one of the fastest-growing immigrant communities in Britain. Despite this fact, recognition of Latin Americans and Latinx people as an ethnic identity in Britain has been largely ignored by official records for many years. 

Furthermore, this under-represented community of first, second and third-generation Latinos has often been reported on exclusively through the lens of crime, immigration, or drug-related stories in the media rather than any accomplishments and successes. 

My Uncle is Not Pablo Escobar, co-created by Valentina Andrade, Elizabeth Alvarado, Lucy Wray and Tommy Ross-Williams, attempts to put the record straight by exploring the diversity and vibrancy of this thriving community.

This is an energetic and exciting stage production starring by four young Latinx actors that dance and perform with their hearts out.

There is Alejandra, played by the outstanding Yanexi Enriquez, an 18-year-old Colombian Londoner student who works part-time as a cleaner in a bank to pay for her studies. Catalina, played by engaging Pia Laborde-Noquez, is Alejandra’s 27-year-old sister and an investigative journalist from Colombia. 

There is also Lucia, played by vivacious Cecilia Alfonso-Eaton, a Latinx Londoner and student activist, and Nathaly Sabino in the role of Honey, a bubbly Brazilian Londoner who manages a team of cleaners during the day and dances in clubs at night, and who fights for her husband’s right to stay in the country.

The show’s main plot involves a high stakes heist to uncover money laundering activities from a Colombian cartel at the bank where Ale, Lucia and Honey work as cleaners.

The very effective mise en scene cleverly uses only a few props and a simple set design: a big aperture and iron door frames, a set of steps and a balcony. It quickly transforms from a small flat in London to a bank’s office and then to the British Museum and a detention centre, to allow for a story that flows fast, engaging the audience throughout. 
     
The trilingual production (subtitled in English, Spanish and Portuguese) intersperses irreverent scenes from TV family programmes, Latinx balls, and voiceovers from the show’s writers, along with the main storyline that is led by the hilarious Cata as an investigative reporter working undercover with the help of three Latinx women from south London to indict criminal bankers and drug barons. 

There are moments of pure joy in this very dynamic show, including an exclusive party organised by the bank at the British Museum with the theme of “Narcos,” a stuffed “chihuahua” with a hidden chip inside, and a London club scene where Latinas dance to the sound of Latin Hip Hop and R&B.

During one of the voiceovers, we hear Andrade, whose own experiences along with Alvarado’s inspired the production. She describes the imaginary “Si Se Puede” (Yes, You Can) Gallery, the British Latinx Museum, where it is possible to walk around a museum “that doesn’t yet exist, listening to an audio guide of an exhibition of the future filled with real and imagined art, achievements and artefacts of the British Latinx community in London.”

My Uncle is Not Pablo Escobar should be included in that necessary museum. 

This is a production full of energy and social denunciation that I can’t recommend enough.

Runs until June 24. Box office: 020 7582 7680, brixtonhouse.co.uk

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