Life lessons, lightheartedly, with a bit of ‘el sexo’ 1

Soledad Lopez in the show called in English “We Women Do It Better Than Men.”

The show must go on — online, that is!

Forced to shut its doors on March 13 with the arrival of the coronavirus, the venerable Thalia Theatre, which, for 43 years, has been celebrating Spanish and Latin American culture via live performances in its intimate space in Sunnyside, isn’t letting a pandemic stand in its way.

Taking full advantage of modern technology, the theater, under Artistic and Executive Director Angel Gil Orrios, is still providing audiences with a wide variety of shows — though, for now at least, strictly in the comfort of their own homes.

The ingenious idea involves use of archival videos of some of the theater’s most admired productions.

The latest offering to hit computer screens is an award-winning one-woman comedy called “Las Mujeres lo Hacemos Mejor que Los Hombres,” by Puerto Rican playwright Roberto Ramos-Perea.

That translates to “We Women Do It Better Than Men,” and, in a 90-minute tour-de-force directed by Gil Orrios, Soledad Lopez sets out to prove the point — in a variety of entertaining ways.

The demanding role, in which Lopez portrays numerous characters — both male and female, young and old — has become somewhat of a career-spanning venture for the actress, who has been seen in it at the theater in multiple runs over the years. In fact, according to Gil Orrios, she was scheduled to reprise it on stage again this past April, followed by runs in Guatemala and Spain, but those plans were brought to a halt by the outbreak.

The premise finds Lopez, as a psychologist, leading a professional growth workshop, with the audience as the attendees. Before long she is letting loose with one sharp remark after another.

“For men in sex and in politics, to be on top doesn’t necessarily mean screwing those who are under you,” she says near the top of the show. Later she opines, “God made man first and then woman. Why? Because you learn from your mistakes.”

A highly detailed examination of male-female relationships, the show covers a lot of territory. There are serious moments, to be sure, including stories about an abusive alcoholic father, relationships that didn’t work out and, most moving of all, the death of a mother.

But the show also contains more than a fair share of laughs. There is an extended segment dealing with the various types of “professional seducers” that offers dramatic and often hilarious personifications of each type, from “the Bohemian” to the “sexually liberated guy.”

The production itself is low-tech, with a stagehand entering from behind a center stage curtain to set the next scene. But the quality of the video is admirable, bringing viewers up close to the headline performer.

And what a performance she is giving. Lopez begins to talk about her character’s first sexual experience and, putting her hair in pigtails, instantaneously transports us back to her youth. With a slight change of posture she just as easily becomes her own mother.

In one scene, in which she relives rollicking in the waves and having her first sexual experience with her first crush, she plays both participants to great effect.

Adding to the fun is Lopez’s occasional venture out into the house, where she engages the audience in direct participation in the storytelling.

The video is in Spanish with English subtitles that are simple, easy to read and unusually faithful to the spoken word.

To watch the production, as well as others including tango and flamenco dance shows, visit thaliatheatre.org.

The theater requests a contribution of $10 or more for viewing the performances, which will be available through June 30.

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