“In Mexico, one starts from the beginning every day,” explains Cesar (Luis Avalos), a poor history professor, to his wife (Blanca Araceli) and two adult children (Lorenzo Callender and Elizabeth Duran), whom he uprooted from Mexico City to carve out a new life in a rural village. He’s more right than he knows. When a Harvard researcher (Gerard Marzilli) blows into town asking about Cesar Rubio, the lost hero of the Mexican Revolution, the unemployed scholar passes himself off as the great man, on a whim. Rodolfo Usigli’s conscientious 1937 drama follows as the forces of politics — good and sinister — capitalize on his sudden fame, rebranding his modesty as “unexplained magnetism,” and elevating the man considered a loser by his family into a viable candidate for governor. Usigli asks if the decent are doomed to mediocrity; the only difference between the ignored and the triumphant is the public’s need to believe. Despite his lie, Cesar will still be the government’s most minor hypocrite. Translated and staged by Avalos, the 70-year-old play investigates a timeless theme, though the production is held back by rushed dialogue and an overstated third act. Still, when Cesar stands up to death threats from his crooked rival, Navarro (Armando Di Lorenzo), the audience feels the ache from the disillusion of Cesar’s idealistic son, so disgusted by his father’s fib that he refuses to recognize the man’s genuine strength.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Starts: June 5. Continues through June 22, 2008

LA Weekly