San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

‘17 Border Crossings’ captivates audiences in Jacó

“17 Border Crossings,” written and performed by U.S. artist Thaddeus Phillips, opened Jan. 19 for a 10-day run at Teatro Jacó, in the new Oceans Center on the main street of the Central Pacific beach town of Jacó. The highly acclaimed one-man show is testimony to Phillips’ talent both as an actor and writer.

The show consists of a series of humorous, thought-provoking and sometimes scary monologues about Phillips’ experiences at international border crossings over the past two decades. Some are linked to the fall of the Berlin Wall, while others are influenced by 9/11 and how it affected international travel throughout the world.

The minimal black set is full of surprises engineered talented young lighting designer Maria Shaplin. She has created some visually stunning scenes at borders, on trains, buses and planes, in cars and even on a chairlift. Lights are attached to a bar that ascends and descends in the space and floods the stage with a variety of colors that set the scene.

Backed by Spencer Sheridan’s intriguing and captivating sound effects and a few props, Phillips takes the audience on a hypnotic journey to over 20 countries, including Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Italy, Israel, Jordan and Mexico. He issues a wonderful mix of humor, sensitivity and political critique as he traverses through foreign lands and cultures. Crossing the borders of war-torn Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia proves to be his most threatening experience, and he makes it totally believable.

One moment you will ache with laughter, and the next, Phillips will chill you to the bone as he captures images of authoritarian police presence and menacing border guards. His use of the stage, body movements and facial expressions, as well as fast-paced delivery and authentic-sounding accents, are entertaining, clever and often very funny. It doesn’t matter if you don’t speak the language of the countries Phillips visits, as he often throws in quick translations in the midst of his wonderful, believable characterization.

Every audience member is sure to identify at some point with one of the episodes in Phillips’ innovative and provocative performance.

Don’t miss an excellent, entertaining evening at the newly opened, cool and comfortable Teatro Jacó.

“17 Border Crossings” runs through Jan. 29, with performances at 7:30 p.m. Thursday to Sunday (Sunday shows are performed in Spanish). Ticket prices, which include a complimentary glass of wine or soda, are $35 for main floor seating, $20 for balcony and $17.50 for Sunday performances in Spanish. Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. For information, call 2630-9811 or email

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