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Before the arrival of the titular houseguest in Mario Diament’s El Invitado, the protagonists are a happily married triple. Nora (pretty but histrionic Claudia Torres) complains that her sedate, middle-aged husband, Lucio (Hernando Acuna), won’t throw her a morning quickie until he’s had his toast. Lucio, as a matter of fact, is so obsessed with the dish that he muses on the possibility of someone’s inventing an air freshener that smells like freshly crisped bread. No matter—Nora’s wheelchair-bound father (amusingly played by a fabric dummy) also lives in their apartment, giving Nora an outlet for her loving attention. The predictable complications ensue when Lucio’s young friend Silvio (Peter Pereyra) moves in, ostensibly to paint the apartment. From the moment Silvio arrives, flirty, kimono-clad Nora can barely keep her tongue inside her mouth. Well, you can’t really blame her—picture Pereyra as a Paraguayan Lucky Vanous. The funny thing is, Silvio also seems to be seducing Lucio. He whispers sedition about Nora into Lucio’s ear and somehow entices Lucio into getting in touch with his feminine side via an apron, a wig, and two oranges for falsies. But the end of this good, clean ambidextrous fun is foreshadowed by Silvio’s unprovoked slaps at paralyzed Papa’s head. Director Mario Marcel does a good job of moving the cast about in classic sex-farce fashion: Nora and Silvio chase each other around the dining room and the five wooden pillars that represent other rooms in the house. Lucio and Silvio dance around the living room to one of Papa’s opera records. There’s even a wheelchair ride or two, before Silvio is called upon to fill a role in the family dynamic he didn’t anticipate. The trouble is, the characters are straight out of central casting. Torres tries to vamp and screech some life into Nora, but she’s the standard-issue sexually frustrated housewife. Lucio the milquetoast’s waning interest in romance is attributed to his emotional castration by Papa, who—even in his silent, unmoving condition—provides the family with a home and livelihood. Finally, there’s the mysterious sexy stranger: Pereyra brings the right physicality to the part, but his suitcaseful of mysteries is never explained, including whether he’s hoping to wind up with Nora or Lucio. El Invitado was probably meant to play like an episode of The Twilight Zone, but Teatro de la Luna’s production fails to build any real suspense. The experience of listening to the play’s English translation—performances are in Spanish, with translation on weekends—spoken by different actors over headsets is no worse than watching a movie that’s slightly out of sync on an airplane. —Janet Hopf