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Edinburgh Fringe 2021

Looking for América

Once Off Productions

Genre: New Writing, Theatre

Venue: Showcatcher (Online)


Low Down

In 2019, Fede and his mother, went on a quest to look for América. Shared memories and conflicting recollections led them through their past in a city that had taken them in more than 30 years before, when following his Father’s arrest, Fede and his family were forced to flee the Salvadoran civil war. A story of two journeys. The journey of that night in Havana looking for an ex-Guerilla fighter and the journey of escaping the catastrophe in Fede’s country decades before. Sometimes the idea of home has to be remade. And remade. And remade.


Storytelling is at the forefront of this play about family, rebellion, displacement and belonging, written by Federico Julián González & Janet Moran, directed by Moran and performed by González. Yet this is more than storytelling because González is telling his own story, and it’s palpable. Tightly written – and deftly directed by Moran – González stands on the stage holding a retro red zippered suitcase, wearing a shirt and hat of the time and place his story comes from…and then he whisks us away with him to Cuba!

González and his mother made the journey there recently with his wife and children to share and rediscover memories of his youth in Havana, and to look for a very dear friend, América.

Vibrant music and images envelop us with atmosphere and a taste of another culture, but it is the charismatic presence, charm and sincerity of González in his debut performance on any stage, that is transporting – and we readily go with him on this intriguing journey.

His family lived in several South and Central American countries – including Salvador through the harrowing civil war, and left for Havana when González was five. Stories follow about his father and his extreme experiences leading to imprisonment in Salvador. Dolphins, pelicans, the sea and vivid imagery of the army, raids and so called normal life.

Smart crafting of the story unfolds in several chapters, with titles like What we Left Behind and The Little Hotel. Each chapter includes stories about sacrifice, exile, how they chose to live in Cuba, with fascinating anecdotes about the fellow inhabitants in the hotel, such as the affable Miguelito in his late 70s and curious characters, men women and children.

Although seemingly slightly nervous at the beginning of the play González soon shows that he is a strong performer and powerful storyteller. He is compelling – with a nuanced personable delivery, a vital ease in the space, simply a natural storyteller.

A large background screen adds location and context effectively with the ocean’s ripples, maps of cities and people from his past. Supported by a creative team (Music: Sound Design by Mark Jackson, Lighting Design by Colin Doran, AV Design by Kevin Michael Reed and Cinematography by Ian Wheelan and John Hylan) the stage comes alive, especially in between chapters when González moves to the rhythmic beat, always with his suitcase in hand!

This is an epic personal story that is very well crafted and performed. It’s a lifetime and back – a meaningful, visceral and emotive experience. Not to be missed!