Billed as a comedy, playwright Odalys Nanins cartoonlike dramatization of the life of 17th-century Basque noblewoman Catalina de Erauso offers little insight into this unique historical personality and the conventions she battled. Victim of a rigid Spanish patriarchy, the teenage Erauso fled the convent where shed spent her childhood. She donned mens clothes and became a Spanish soldier who lived and fought under the name of Guzman. Condemned to death for brawling, she confessed to being a woman and was not only spared execution but -- remarkably -- granted a dispensation by the pope to continue to live as a man. Her proven virginity and her service to the state saved her, and her memoirs brought her celebrity in her lifetime. Co-directed by Johanna Siegmann and Ivonne Coll, this adaptation features Nanin in the title role and employs broad strokes to portray Guzman as a swaggering, courageous hothead, irresistible to women, who go wild over her lovemaking techniques. The play opens on high melodrama, later shifting into a bawdier vein with no hint of tongue in cheek. The dialogue is simplistic and the acting over the top. No effort is made to give shading to the characters or, more interestingly, to the ideological dynamics behind the churchs acceptance of her transvestism and its apparent dont ask, dont tell attitude toward her sexual preferences.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Starts: Sept. 13. Continues through Oct. 26, 2008