Gabriel Calderón is now, with the permission of his friend and colleague Sergio Blanco, a mainstay in Uruguayan theatre. And the three actresses that embody and add their voices to the work are no less. Gabriela Iribarren, Marisa Betancur and María Mendive, a dream team from the Uruguayan stage who, together, crystallise an absolutely poignant work.
It’s a tough piece, we won’t mislead you, a work about a mother who confesses that she would be capable of ‘taking the disease’ from her son in order to save him. Any mother would probably do the same. The actresses had troubles learning the script because there are two or three scenes in which it’s impossible not to cry. Calderón says that she let it happen in the rehearsals. They all cried together for a bit and then kept on working. However, Ana contra la muerte is not a sentimental drama – although it is a tearjerker – but a metaphorical cry interspersed with many other questions. Philosophical questions, on the one hand, because it approaches what’s behind human beings’ completely consubstantial rejection of death. Psychological matters, because it approaches what’s behind the manipulation of memory that – consciously or unconsciously – perhaps in self-defence, we do so many times. At one point the text in the work says: ‘There are pretty memories that words awaken, which make us laugh and breath better, but there are also dangerous memories.’ And political matters because, we could also say that Ana is poor, or just lacking a series of privileges that other people enjoy and that she has been denied. The shock that we receive as viewers watching this piece is tremendous and you’d have to be insensitive to leave, if not transformed, at least deeply touched. Calderón wanted to write it classically, thinking of the dialogues between the chorus and the actor of the dawn of theatre. And he also throws in manual catharsis for us.