Review: Playing Latinx

Guido Garcia Lueches explores cultural expectations and colonial malevolence through humour and participation

theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
34017 large
Playing Latinx
Photo by Vicky Polack
Published 20 Aug 2023

"The show will start when someone sits in this chair," reads a whiteboard at the front of the Cairn Lecture Theatre. The audience murmur between themselves, checking tickets, eating crusts of overpriced sandwiches before realising – oh – the show will start when someone sits in this chair.

And so starts an hour of political comedy dripping in audience participation. Guido Garcia Lueches is the star of Playing Latinx, expertly mixing confessional stand-up with character acting of the different roles (with their associated Latinx stereotypes) he has been asked to audition for since moving to the UK in 2014. A different audience member is tasked with playing the casting director for each role, many of whom take on the part with vigour. 

Between casting scenes, Lueches uses the lecture theatre setting to teach the audience on how to play the 'perfect Latinx'. Through this, Lueches and co-directors Mariana Aristizabal Pardo and Malena Arcucci create nuanced discussions on the idea of the 'good immigrant' to explore how this concept is not just about fitting in, but also playing up to cultural stereotypes that are rooted in colonial malevolence. 

It is in these moments that the show excels, the tight script in these scenes really exposing just how harmful these clichés are. Where Playing Latinx falls down slightly is in its reliance on audience participation. It stops and starts the show too much and can sometimes lead to important discussions being lost to improv. There are inevitably funny moments in these sections, but they could be more isolated to allow for Lueches' natural candour and wittiness to shine more.