Review: Blue Box (nightswimming; as part of Panamerican Routes / Rutas Panamericanas)

Blue Box nurtures your soul, feeds your libido

Carmen Aguirre’s Blue Box is important and sexy. Her solo show spices up an already warm Toronto spring at Theatre Passe Muraille. Heartfelt thanks go out to Aluna Theatre for for this great gift.

Aguirre enters an almost bare stage. She seems alone and vulnerable – but only for a split second. Aguirre quickly charms the audience and makes the stage hers. She has the force of a hurricane. Aguirre deals in love instead of destruction.

Blue Box weaves several continents and worlds together. She paints a vivid picture of Chile and Argentina. We feel the oppression of living in a South American dictatorship through her passionate descriptions.

She also takes us inside the secret world of underground revolutionaries. Aguirre doesn’t describe flying a plane over the Andes. She takes us on the plane with her. We argue the merits of certain death by crashing versus being captured and tortured.

Aguirre later finds herself travelling between Vancouver and Los Angeles. We’re with her as she suffers the indignities of “La-La Land” and Vancouver’s East Hastings. The West Coast vampires are no match for the eternal Aguirre.

Meanwhile, Aguirre’s relationship with her departed grandmother is her most important connection. Aguirre communicates with her grandmother through “visions”, transcending this mortal coil.

Blue Box is about geography, politics and romance. Aguirre explores the mortal and the immortal, the political and the superficial, North America and South America, the beautiful truth and the hideous lies.

Blue Box contains all the stuff of spy novels. I often found myself thinking “James Bond has nothing on this woman!” For that matter, neither does Lara Croft!

Aguirre has the same power onstage as performers like Sandra Shamas, Jello Biafra and the late Spalding Grey. She is evocative and paints a picture with words. She doesn’t tell us about her journey, she takes us along for the ride and shares it with us.

Through interplay with the audience, a great sense of humour and fantastic dancing, Aguirre makes intolerable situations tolerable.

Aguirre’s humanity, her drive and passion, her success, that she doesn’t have the same blue eyes as Mitt Romney, are all we need as proof that the American Dream is alive and well.

I found myself thinking about enjoying a pint with my friend from Sao Paulo, Rodrigo. Rod’s stories about Brazil are even better than the beverages.

I’ve never met his parents, but through Rod’s stories, I know them well. I’ve never been to Argentina, Chile, Vancouver or Los Angeles, but through Aguirre’s performance, I feel I have.

It’s strong people like Rodrigo and Aguirre who will fulfill the promise of making this century “about working together.”

I once explained to friends from England that Americans don’t care about anything that happens in Africa unless they make a movie about it starring Don Cheadle. By the same token, it is festivals like Panamerican Routes / Rutas Panamericanas that will help Americans in the north work together with their American cousins in the south.

I thought that the lighting and soundtrack could have been stronger. Aguirre has taught in the past. The lighting rarely changes, almost like we are in a classroom. Maybe that’s the point. I think variations and some different shades could improve a strong work.

I felt the same way about the “soundtrack”. I think songs could really enhance the Blue Box experience, especially “Ese Hombre” by La India. Sound effects were also lacking.

Aguirre is a prolific writer, with scores of plays and books under her belt. Blue Box was inspired by her Canada Reads winning memoir Something Fierce. I got the impression that I was one of the few in the audience yet to read it.

I also got the impression that Something Fierce has similarities with Fifty Shades of Grey. Aguirre really “strikes a chord” with “the sisterhood”.

Panamerican Routes / Rutas Panericanas is a festival not to be missed. Get your tickets pronto amigos!

Blue Box contains mature content and strong language.


Blue Box is playing at Theatre Passe Muraille (16 Ryerson Street) until May 27th – this Sunday
– The remaining performances are at 8:30 PM on May 24th through May 26th  and May 27th at 4:00 PM
– Tickets are $30.00, with special prices for students and seniors
– Tickets can be purchased at 416-504-7529 or

-photo of Carmen Aguirre by Itai Erdal

2 thoughts on “Review: Blue Box (nightswimming; as part of Panamerican Routes / Rutas Panamericanas)”

  1. CORRECTION: Carmen Aguirre’s Blue Box is at 8:30 pm during the week – following a kick-ass remount of the Award winning Nohayquiensepa (No one knows) at 7pm.

  2. Woops… and the Sunday matinee is at 4pm. Nohayquiensepa is the 2pm show that day. At 6pm we also have a reading of Rosa Laborde’s new play Marine Life. Thanks!

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