Leche Asada: A Dark Look Into the Female Psyche

"Voluptuous, sweet and blonde." These are the three criteria that all women and their leche asada (baked flan) should live up to. Not doing so is just one of the many anxieties racing around the mind of Leche Asada’s central character: a seriously neurotic woman suffering her 96th hour of insomnia.

Santiago Chile
Photo by Iván Núñez

In this all-singing, all-dancing play (see photos) that takes a dark and often hilarious look into the depths of the female psyche, three women share the lead role accompanied by one actor-cum-guitarist. Directed by Alejandra Saavedra, Leche Asada was first performed in 2007 by young theatre group Retórica Popular.

Our protagonist is introduced as three personas, sitting onstage twitching, ranting, and clamouring for attention as she tries to lay her demons, and hopefully herself,

Santiago Chile
Photo by Iván Núñez

to rest. The uncensored outpourings of one woman’s most intimate secrets and repressed insecurities from childhood to adulthood are divulged in a whirlwind of voices, transforming the audience into an unwitting confidant and therapist.

The voyeuristic journey begins with a satire of gender stereotypes handed down at birth. As a young girl, the character wrestles with challenges to the role of daddy's little princess, including a fierce playground competition for the best Demi Moore-inspired striptease amongst her female peers.

Ever helpful little boys debunk fairytale romances and the mysteries of the birds and the bees, while a first grade song-and-dance routine details the horrors of AIDS against an up-tempo soundtrack.

Santiago Chile
Photo by Iván Núñez

Using the same style as hit musical Avenue Q, the play turn all politically correct notions of sexuality on their head. Not content tackling taboo subjects with puppets, the play instead uses exaggerated characters, vaudevillian song and dance, and physical theatre to let us laugh at ourselves and society’s ideas about gender. Puberty, adolescence and first sexual encounters are laid painfully bare through a series of weird and wonderful male and female confessions and a series of montages that every audience member will find comic truth in.

Fast-forward to adulthood and our hapless heroine is reeling in a society gone mad, as the play delves into the pressures facing "modern" women.

Santiago Chile
Photo by Iván Núñez

The best pastiche is the pill-pushing, omnipotent therapist that turns our self-help-book reading bag of insecurities into a disturbingly happy, hyperactive ball of destruction. Further belittlement from judgmental Internet networking sites and a belief in a looks-obsessed culture of "botoxed, blonde, blue-eyed skeletons" defer her dream of finding love.

As the play becomes more extreme in its tragicomic depiction of a neurotic, borderline hysteric, woman, character becomes caricature for our benefit. Having parodied the Hollywood idealization of love and relationships, the play must end as it began: with no prince charming. Our troubled protagonist will carry on battling the insecurities and anxieties that keep her from sleeping, but her audience will carry home a lot of laughs and food for thought.

Leche Asada
23 July 2009–16 August 2009
Thursday/Friday/Saturday: 20.00; Sunday: 19.30
General Admission: CP$3.000
Students/Pensioners: CP$2.000
Thursdays: CP$2.000
Teatro Sidarte
Ernesto Pinto Lagarrigue 131
Metro Baquedano

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