History, it’s said, is written by the victors. It’s no surprise, then, that in the gentrification of Chicago neighborhoods, displacement has created (and continues to create) a wealth of lost stories, an erasure of places and people whose lives were shaped by their community. Teatro Vista and Collaboraction’s production of Sandra Delgado’s La Havana Madrid, though, is thankfully here to remind us of a few.
Comprised from a series of interviews Delgado conducted (starting with her Colombian parents), La Havana presents the tales of half-a-dozen Latin American immigrants’ experiences living in a very segregated 1960/70s Chicago and threads them together by what was once a Lakeview nightclub (the show’s namesake), La Havana Madrid. This club, a sanctuary for its Latinx community, brought people together through music, and Delgado’s show seeks to do the same.
Over the course of two acts, the audience, many of whom get to enjoy the show at cabaret tables, is invited to join in the revelries --to dance and sing along with our characters. It’s an evening where the importance of these stories is not just conveyed but felt, especially as the pulsing beat of Carpacho y Su Súper Combo permeates the theatre.
There’s moments when the magic isn’t quite as infectious--the vignette structure of the play could be improved in terms of how each story interacts with and connects to the nightclub, for instance. And, as in any monologue play, some of the performers aren’t quite as captivating as others.
But it’s easy to see why Sandra Delgado’s La Havana Madrid is on its third Chicago production since 2017; not only does it illuminate a decade of our city’s history long-ignored, but it welcomes us into its world. “Music is home,” one of the characters says. And in an evening at The Den Theatre, you can experience and be a part of the sacred sanctuary that defines La Havana Madrid. (Emily Schmidt)
La Havana Madrid continues at The Den Theatre through June 22. More info here.
The Hawk Chicago is included in TheatreInChicago's Review Round-Up.