The line, a play by Israel Horowitz is the longest running play on off-off Broadway, having made its debut in 1974. It has been seen in 25 countries and translated into 35 languages. One of those languages is Spanish and Teatro Punto y Coma is presenting it right now during the San Diego Repertory Theater’s 19th Annual Lipinsky Family Jewish Arts festival. In Spanish, it is called El Primero or The First.
El Primero could also be used to describe the theatrical group, Punto y Coma. They are first and unique in what they do. Punto y Coma is a group of Latin American Jewish people who got together in 1986 because of a common love of theater and the arts. They all had and have day jobs. However, they wanted to take plays in Spanish to the community, have fun, and do something positive in the process. They either perform for free or all their proceeds go to the Ken, a group that promotes Jewish activities for Spanish speaking children and young adults.
Punto y Coma is also a family affair. Pepe Stepensky is the group’s director. David and Joey Chait are actors and David also does the choreography. Orly Galicot is the assistant director and Lizette Galicot ia one of the actors, along with Beto Cohen, and Zeji Ozeri.
They took Horowitz’s original play, and gave it a more “Mexican spin”. This is the theater of the absurd, and the play strives to show how far people will go to be “first”. Five people are all waiting in line. For what, we don’t know, but they all want to be first in line with their feet planted firmly on a white line on the floor. There is Fleming, a rather dim-witted sports enthusiast who has been waiting all night. He starts at the head of the line, but is easily tricked out of his place. Esteban is a handsome, young man and a lover of Mozart who likes to use “doubletalk”. Dolan is the egotistical philosopher. Roperto [ a play on words] is a hen-pecked husband and milquetoast who is afraid of getting hurt, even abdicating when he is first in line to another. Finally, there is Molly, Roperto’s wife, and the only female of the group who uses her sexuality and feminine wiles to lure the men out of their place in lines. She does this in a series of seductive dances with all the men to different styles of music.
I saw the piece on Sunday, June 3rd, and to me, the play seemed boring and silly even though I understood that the point was the lengths that people will go to get what they want. In the end, one of the actors picked up the white line from the floor and they realized the futility of it all. I did not like the play, but I liked the energy and enthusiasm this amateur theater group displayed, and bring to everything that they work on. They spoke their lines, sang and danced with gusto. This play was actually the first play they ever did together in San Diego, so for them, it was very special to present it again to new generations, 21 years later. This is their seventh appearance in the festival, and I hope to see this talented troupe in future projects in both English and Spanish.