Escape from Cuba: ‘Be careful! The sharks will eat you!’
The Washington Post reviews "Be Careful! The Sharks Will Eat You!", a one-man show by Cuban American actor Jay Alvarez:
Theater: A daring escape from Castro’s Cuba
Jay Alvarez’s short but galvanizing solo piece “Be Careful! The Sharks Will Eat You!” gives Americans a good-natured nudge. In a poignantly personal way, the actor/playwright reminds us why some people, at least metaphorically, still kiss the ground in gratitude that they made it to these shores.
“Be Careful! The Sharks Will Eat You!” runs through April 22 at MetroStage in Alexandria.
Alvarez began his stage career in Washington, studying with Studio Theatre’s Joy Zinoman and at the Shakespeare Theatre, and working at venues such as GALA Hispanic Theatre and the Kennedy Center (in “Shear Madness”). He divides his time now between New York and Los Angeles, working in theater and television.
“Be Careful!” is in large part a salute to his parents, especially his father, Humberto, who planned and carried out a daring escape from Fidel Castro’s Cuba in 1964 when young Jorge/“Jay” was almost 5. Humberto and his wife, Chiqui, had already sent their two older boys to the United States on an airlift before Castro shut down such operations .
In “Be Careful!” we learn how Alvarez’s father spent a full year planning the escape, which eventually brought a group of 25 family members and friends to the United States. Humberto and Chiqui actually built a new house in Cuba as a way to fool the government into believing they had no intention of leaving. A trusted friend obtained a fishing license for Humberto so he could have a boat. When the government suddenly ordered all fishing boats confiscated, he had to execute his plan weeks ahead of schedule.
The show begins and ends with the same scene, as Alvarez portrays his mother, his father, his childhood self and all the others, stepping into the boat and heading into the Caribbean Sea under dark of night. They are equal parts petrified and thrilled.
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