Bienvenido á Miami, where the café and bitterness flow nonstop in a funeral parlor and the death of a Cuban matriarch is the impetus to dissect the sordid lives of her kin. Shattered by Castro but utterly gouged by family skeletons and the “fictional” tell-all novels of grandson Oscar, the Marquez family is alternately consumed with exhuming and obliterating the past; tasks which become even more difficult when Oscar announces his plan to kiss and forgive Fidel Castro.
Eduardo Machado’s Kissing Fidel is multi-layered and strong on premise but suffers greatly from uneven performances, awkward dialogue and often illogical blocking. Fortunately, with the arrival of fresh-off-the-raft rhyme-dropping cousin Ismael the play truly begins to sing. Brilliantly portrayed by Andres Munmar, the presence of Ismael does more to crystallize the lasting effects of exile on a family — as well as the distance between American-born, Americanized and native Cubans than any of the play’s convulsion-induced visions, incestuous episodes, strangely hollow screaming fits, or the exposed penis can, ultimately allowing the play to live up to its grand themes of forgiveness and finally, letting go.