“¡FUÁCATA!: A Latina’s Guide to Surviving the Universe opens at Miami’s Arsht Center

First things first. Actor-playwright Elena María García does explain the meaning of “¡FUÁCATA!” somewhere deep into the 90-minute running time of Zoetic Stage’s “¡FUÁCATA! Or a Latina’s Guide to Surviving the Universe.”

The familiar Cuban term, she confides from her perch on Michael McKeever’s Mondrian-evocative set, suggests the sound of a slap. As in, “¡Fuácata! You really stepped in it that time!”

But whether you know the meaning of “¡fuácata!” or not, whether you know a great deal of Spanish or just a few words, know this: García is one of the funniest human beings ever to step on a stage.

Co-written by García and Zoetic Stage artistic director Stuart Meltzer, “¡FUÁCATA!” is getting its world premiere in the Carnival Studio Theater at Miami’s Arsht Center as part of the Theater Up Close series. It’s a piece deeply of and about mostly Latina women who live in Miami, a solo show that liberally peppers its English dialogue with Spanish-language colloquialisms and phrases. Most of that material gets restated or referenced in English, but you don’t need to know Spanish or live in Miami to find “¡FUÁCATA!” resonant and hilarious.

Playing almost two dozen characters, García guides us through a day in the life of Elena, an event planner and working mom whose traditionalist Cuban Mami is but one of the women who complicates her life on a daily basis.

There is, Elena tells us up front, only one simple way to survive the stress of being an everyday Latina superhero, and it has four letters: café. Not coffee, but Cuban coffee, one of three daily cafecitos she dubs “liquid electricity.” Yet on this day, her preferred supplier — La Isla Café — is out. No café today. The horror!

Though she never changes her casual outfit, García, director Meltzer, lighting designer Rebecca Montero and sound designer Anton Church collaborate to bring a teeming world of Miami characters to life.

There’s Estrella, the counter lady…

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