Mariana Lafón’s Shaken consists of a mish mash of scenes; from poignant portrayals of grief to absurdist skits. Through them, Lafón tells the story of Mexico and the devastating aftermath following both the 1985 and 2017 earthquakes. The power of Shaken lies in how Lafón juxtaposes moments of dark comedy with moments of heartbreak. She flicks from an aid worker in true gameshow-host style asking the viewer if they are ready for their mission to a sobering clip of a grieving mother. This constant switching between registers keeps the audience on its toes. The whole work rests on a knife-edge between tears and laughter.
Lafón’s political message is one of defiance, it grows in intensity throughout the work. One scene really stayed with me, that of a bereaved mother saying goodbye to her child. Whilst heart-breaking to watch, it seemed to take on a national significance, serving as a grieving ritual for Mexico as a whole and all lives lost. The work ends with a rousing speech about how the Mexican population will be reborn and rebuild their society. All they need is time. Lafón blames a corrupt government, fraud and failed constructions for the untimely deaths of so many. The piece builds to this speech and its final defiant frame: a clenched fist up to the sky as Lafón shouts ‘We resist! We remain!’ A stark contrast to the opening scene where Lafón lies on the floor covered in rubble. The work’s overall message is about rebuilding and renewal, one which is mirrored in its very structure.
Lafón’s qualities as a storyteller shine through. She effortlessly switches from comedy to tragedy embodying a range of different characters. Through direct address to the audience she connects with us from the get-go and really takes us on this journey with her. The work is mostly filmed straight on with occasional switches to different angles, a change which didn’t always seem necessary. I felt it somewhat got in the way of our direct connection with Lafón and was slightly disorientating for the viewer.
Overall I really connected with this piece. It is a beautiful and touching tribute to Mexico.
Written, performed, directed and produced by: Mariana Lafón
Cinematography by: Joe Ortega
Edited by: Luis Fernando Zubieta
Shaken is available to watch online until 29 November. Tickets are £6.