Thirty years after the Cuban revolution a woman in her late 70’s finally escapes Castro’s grasp and flees to the Miami home of her daughter, an American citizen. Bedraggled and exhausted, bringing with her a young woman who had been her maid, she stands on her daughter’s doorstep, penniless and forlorn.
Sound like the beginning of a heart-rending Oliver Stone movie? Normally, yes — but in the hands of playwright Luis Santeiro, “The Lady from Havana,” opening tonight at Edge of the World Theatre, turns out to be a comedy of revolutionary proportions.
For this frail, elderly Cuban grande dame had become the “queen of the black market” in Havana, ruled it with an iron fist for twenty years, and skipped to America just ahead of Castro’s secret police.
And to her daughter’s growing horror, the holy terror with the big attitude quickly learns how to adapt her larcenous methods to a capitalist society. Before her daughter can say “dios mio”, Mama has her money-making plans in place — including bogus bank loans for the purchase of entire beauty salons.
“We thought we’d try something really different,” chuckled Edge director Michael Kelley. “And this is about as different as it gets.”
Of course, mother and daughter find themselves formidable foes in a combat royale as the daughter rushes to block Mama’s maneuvers before she lands them all in jail. Santeiro, his eye steadfastly on the absurdity of the human condition, makes it all ridiculous and lighter than air.
Kelley continued, “The New York reviewers had this one right — it just makes you laugh to find out that the real Cuban invasion won’t be led by a band of hardened revolutionaries, but by a grumpy old lady in a walker.”
“The Lady from Havana” stars Melanie Calderwood, Sara Trowbridge, and Kayti Barnett.