Capital Fringe Review: ‘Despertar’ by Amanda Gunther

Despertar. Literally Spanish for awakening or to wakeup. The wakeup call here is that there are 122 other shows at The Capital Fringe Festival to go enjoy. Director and Playwright Jon Jon Johnson attempts to capture the allure and appeal of the hot-blooded dance best known as tango and intertwine the notion of its fierce shifts between desire and repulsion with specific feelings found in certain relationships. And the only thing the audience gets is 40 minutes of the emotions of the dance trying to be translated as words wherein 95% of it gets lost in translation.

The cast of 'Despertar': From left to right: Elizabeth Hansen, Mikhel Wirtanen, Eric Kruger, and Connor Hogan. Photo Courtesy of Ana Mills.

The only thing worth seeing in this muddled confusion of scenes that are supposed to tell a story and don’t is the brief pre-show show where actors Mikhel Alexandra Wirtanen and Elizabeth Hansen spend five minutes wrapping themselves around one another doing fluid tango with clunky modern grunge punk music in the background. Once you’ve seen this save yourself the other 35 minutes and grab a drink at the bar.

The garbled and convoluted snippets of text and dialogue don’t even wax poetic so that at least we could assume Johnson was trying to be creative or inspired. Instead they run together in a grey sludge of what was supposed to be emotions but just sound like four people yelling at each other. Their conversations are like a bad episode of Jerry Springer with tango music in the background. The only real involvement of tango, which was meant to be the inspiration and encompassing theme of Johnson’s creation is during the pre-show dance scene. Otherwise we get occasional moments of stilted attempts at dance moves that if moved to completion might be considered tango.

It was an overall disaster because the text was bland, the actors, especially Connor J. Hogan and Eric Kruger, were shouting most of their lines at speeds and decibels which made them unintelligible, and the scenes started and ended abruptly without rhyme or reason.

For more information on the show and to purchase tickets, go to our Fringe Preview.


Previous articleCapital Fringe Review: ‘Harmony’ by Julia L. Exline
Next articleCapital Fringe Review: ‘The Webcam Play’ by Grace Kim
Amanda Gunther
Amanda Gunther is an actress, a writer, and loves the theatre. She graduated with her BFA in acting from the University of Maryland Baltimore County and spent two years studying abroad in Sydney, Australia at the University of New South Wales. Her time spent in Sydney taught her a lot about the performing arts, from Improv Comedy to performance art drama done completely in the dark. She loves theatre of all kinds, but loves musicals the best. When she’s not working, if she’s not at the theatre, you can usually find her reading a book, working on ideas for her own books, or just relaxing and taking in the sights and sounds of her Baltimore hometown. She loves to travel, exploring new venues for performing arts and other leisurely activities. Writing for the DCMetroTheaterArts as a Senior Writer gives her a chance to pursue her passion of the theatre and will broaden her horizons in the writer’s field.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here