Review: ‘La Foto: A Selfie Affair’ at GALA Hispanic Theatre

La Foto: A Selfie Affair is a simple story, both feminist and humorous, about how the intimacies of our daily lives can be exposed and exploited on social media.” ~ Gustavo Ott, playwright

La Foto: A Selfie Affair is a comical, Latin-style, commentary on social culture in the age of social media. The play made its World Premiere in DC at the GALA Hispanic Theatre to an international crowd on Saturday, February 3rd, 2018.

Carlos Castillo and Luz Nicolás in La Foto: A Selfie Affair. Photo by Daniel Martínez
Carlos Castillo and Luz Nicolás in La Foto: A Selfie Affair. Photo by Daniel Martínez.

Written by Venezuelan playwright, novelist and journalist, Gustavo Ott and directed by Abel Lopez, GALA’s Associate Producing Director, this play’s cast of zany characters lit up the stage with an opening sequence performance that garnered some ‘oohs and ahhs’ from the audience.

Laura (Luz Nicolás), a middle-aged, single mom looking for love, bares herself in the bathroom mirror in search of the perfect sexy selfie pose. Contented with the outcome of her snapshots, Laura reviews her work. Moments later, Laura and her daughter Kelly (Samantha Rios) exchange playful tips on how to touch-up a selfie photo (foto). Apps, filters and cropping methods are discussed in depth. Eventually, this provocative selfie is shared with all on Facebook (and then in text) with Denis (Carlos Castillo), the recipient, who is going through his own mid-life crisis. This series of events sets off a cascade of misunderstandings and sets up the bizarre nature of social media. Two families are changed forever when a suggestive selfie is sent to one person but shared by someone else.

Luz Nicolás in La Foto: A Selfie Affair. Photo by Daniel Martínez.
Luz Nicolás in La Foto: A Selfie Affair. Photo by Daniel Martínez.

Enter Fran (Jose González). Fran is Denis’ son who is smitten with Kelly. They are the innocent victims of their parents’ social media sexual transgressions. Thais (Maria Peyramaure) is Fran’s mother who sees the obvious silliness in her husband, Denis’ male weakness. Ale (Karen Morales) is Laura’s friend and confidant and the one who questions the morality of Laura’s actions.

Abel Lopez’s direction creates the frenzy between scenes where a bed, the focal point of all scenes, and Japanese Shoji-style doors move quickly on set to create mise-en-scene. Christopher Annas-Lee’s lighting and projection sets the modernistic tone with dimly lit sets and projection show photos on characters’ phones. Sexts are blurred forms flying off the screens and in the final scene, a collection of the protagonist’s images swirl from one screen to the next.

Privacy. Relationships. Body image. Ott explores the rich texture of humanity with clever, biting humor and respect for emotional frailty. He speaks to the consequences of using social media as ego; the damage it can cause in the life of family and strangers; and the meaning and emotional connection between generations.

Ott has written over 35 plays, six of which have been produced at GALA. Abel Lopez has staged 60 productions at GALA, including four other plays by Gustavo Ott. Scenic Designer Jessica Cancina, Sound Designer David Crandall, Stage Manager Nelly Díaz Rodriguez, Properties Tony Koehler, and Costume Designer Moyenda Kulemeka helped bring La Foto vividly to life on stage.

Running Time: 100 minutes and one intermission.

La Foto is performed in Spanish with English subtitles.

La Foto: A Selfie Affair runs through February 25, 2018 , t the GALA Hispanic Theatre, 3333 14th Street, NW, Washington, D.C. Tickets online.