Raw. Poignant. Perfectly, powerfully performed and executed in present-day Havana; “Jesus” and his miscreant father “Angel” live atop “the most beautiful slum in the world”. There is so much beauty in “Viva”, achingly personal and real, that investment in every character is cemented with the first introduction: “Jesus” (Hector Medina) survives by shaping the wigs of drag performers; he wistfully watches and yearns to be a part of the corps; “Mama” (Luis Alberto Garcia) manages the club and with trepidation allows Jesus to make his debut, hence “Viva” bursts forth with startling fierceness and glory.
“Angel” (passionate performance by Jorge Perugorria) returns unannounced from prison; squatting, rum-infused, in Jesus’ barely survivable apartment; sickened by his son’s effeminate affectations and homosexuality he abusively bans him from performing; Jesus resorts to prostitution to keep rice and beans on the table. Angel had fleeting success as a boxer and longs for the approbation of an ephermal time; questioning his decisions, abandonment of his wife and child; his soul-searching lends empathy and credibility to his ruptured spirit.
“Viva’s” magic lies in the goodness coursing through the veins of all we meet, from a young expectant mother, an elderly grandmother, “Mama” a stalwart supporter of Jesus, with a voice that tears at one’s soul, even Angel wins our plaudits in the end. But it is Jesus, miraculously depicted by Hector Medina, whose delicate respect, resolve and dignity, forever steadfast, sheds his chrysalis, blooms and flies into the realm of self-awareness, realizing his destiny and happiness.