San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Grim reality explored in “Calladito más bonito”

From the print edition

The latest production by the National Theater Company (CNT), “Calladito más bonito” (“The Most Beautiful Silence”) brings the audience into very real and uncomfortable situations seen across borders and socio-economic levels. A homeless man’s fantastic imaginings. A construction worker’s separation from the family he supports. A young girl’s deception by her own family. 

The six actors playing those roles are directed by Argentine actress and dramaturge Heidi Steinhardt in scenes that do not overlap, though all of characters could live within the same neighborhood, and some ride the same train. Instead, their situations are private, and they suffer behind closed doors.

Prior to the play’s opening, Steinhardt spoke about its conception, which began before her arrival in Costa Rica this May. Since then, she has been researching Costa Rican culture and identity, and while “Calladito más bonito” is not related specifically to Costa Rica, it retains many features of her study.

Actors Andrés Montero, Eric Córdoba, Adriana Víquez, Winston Washington, Pablo Caravaca and Vivian Rodríguez are skillfully supported by stage design and directing. Poignant lighting, stage positioning and minimal props deliver each actor’s message simply and clearly, most of the time.

Disappointingly, in numerous instances throughout opening night, the audience did not react as intended. In moments of great tragedy or seriousness, in which grief and pain overwhelmed the characters, individual sections of the audience burst into untimely laughter. This gave way to shameful, uncomfortable silence.

The production was thankfully wrought with moments of comic relief. A cat named Nietzsche and the common frustration of a spotty cell phone signal alleviated the theater’s contained intensity. While it maybe be heavy, “Calladito más bonito” is also interestingly orchestrated and representative of universal situations.

“Calladito más bonito” opened Saturday, July 28, in the Teatro de La Aduana and it will run till September 2. Arrive early to get seating near the front and center. From the back and sides of the theater, the view of the floor-level stage is obstructed.

The play, which is in Spanish, runs Thursday to Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. General entrance is ₡4,000. Thursdays are 2-for-1. Call 2257-8305 for reservations.

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