After a successful run at the Teatro Jorge Negrete since February 2017, Variaciones Enigmaticas is currently playing at the Teatro Sogem Wilberto Cantón in Mexico. It was produced by Sergio Gabriel, under the direction of Manuel González Gil (also currently directing Made In Mexico).
Variaciones Enigmáticas is a rendition of Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt’s Enigma Variations, which was first performed in 1996 and starred Alain Delon and Francis Huster. In turn, Schmitt’s drama pays homage to composer Edward Elgar’s musical composition popularly known as Enigma Variations, which he composed between October 1898 and February 1899 and titled Variations On An Original, Theme Op. 36.
The play dramatizes a conversation between Nobel Prize winner Abel Znorko and Erik Larsen, a reporter. Despite his aversion towards journalists, Znorko has invited Larsen to his house located on a Norwegian island where he lives by himself. Larsen focuses the interview on Znorko’s most recent epistolary novel about two lovers who decide to separate and continue their love affair via letters. Larsen adamantly wants to prove that the protagonist is Znorko’s ex-lover and that the book is a compendium of the letters they exchanged, while Znorko insists that he is a creator not a transcriber.
The play’s structure evokes a thriller in that the audience gradually discovers who the characters really are as their convoluted and intense conversation develops. The setting is a realistic representation of a writer’s living room or studio. The entire back wall is lined with bookshelves, there are two stuffed chairs behind a coffee table, a baby grand piano in the middle of the stage and a wet bar on the opposite side of the chairs. Occasionally standing behind the wet bar allows Znorko to play the role of host and to avoid submitting himself to the interview. Larsen spends most of the time in a hunched position that denotes shyness and lack of assertiveness. As the play progresses he starts gaining confidence.
In an advertisement of the play, the synopsis states that the interview becomes a sinuous game of a cruel truth surrounding the mysterious woman in the novel. She becomes the center of the conflict of the play and the debate that ensues between Znorko and Larsen regarding eternal questions of love such as: “Who do we love when we fall in love?,” “Do we ever really know the person we claim to love?,” “Do we know ourselves when in love?,” “Is a shared love a happy misunderstanding?,” “What happens when death crosses the paths of love?,” “Who loves who?,” and “To whom do we say, ‘I love you?'”
César Évora and Jorge Salinas, who play Znorko and Larsen respectively, are household names to avid watchers of Mexican soap operas. Évora is originally from Cuba and acted primarily in films before moving to Mexico City and Salinas is known for both his participation in both films and television series. This play offered the opportunity to return to the stage after twenty years.
This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.