Review: "Seis" Won't Allow Us to Forget that Even One Act of Anti-Trans Violence is Too Many


Written by Federico Roca

Directed by Pablo Andrade

Presented by Teatro Círculo at the Chain Theatre

312 W 36th St., 3rd floor, Manhattan, NYC

February 16-26, 2023

Photo courtesy of Teatro Círculo
Seis, from award-winning playwright Federico Roca, is named for six trans women who were murdered in Roca's native Uruguay between 2012 and 2013. The violence propagated against these women, as Seis powerfully reminds us, represents a mere fraction of the global violence against trans and other queer people–rising, where queerness is not in fact legally punishable by death, to a kind of unofficial death penalty, as the play puts it–as well as one extreme on the spectrum of ostracization, pathologization, and discrimination faced by LGBTQIA+ individuals. Presented, in Spanish with English overtitles, as part of Teatro Círculo's CALLBACKseries2023, Seis shines a sometimes funny, frequently poignant spotlight on the persistence of homo- and transphobia while not neglecting instances of love, support and connection that should be accorded every human being.
L to R: Mario Mattei, María Fontanals, Yessi Hernández, Mauricio Martínez. Photo courtesy of Teatro Círculo
As Seis makes clear across the vignettes of which is it composed, homo- and transphobia can come from family, friends, authorities, and even from internalized heteronorms, as in the case of one character (Mario Mattei) who insists that he is heterosexual despite engaging in same-sex sex work. We hear from, for example, a mother (María Fontanals) who emphasizes that she did not use any slurs when she castigated her son (Mauricio Martínez, consistently charismatic no matter the character) for articulating that he was gay (his version of events, told after hers, looks a little different). A man (Martínez) recalls how he stopped spending time with a friend when that friend, who later transitioned, proposed playing Sleeping Beauty when they were children. A woman named Victoria (Yessi Hernández) convinces herself that her lesbian relationship was merely a temporary fall into sin and error (part of this story is, very entertainingly, danced, with Victoria pulled–and at one point subversively sandwiched–between a priest [Martínez] and her lover [Fontanals]). The play's original title, Seis, somos todos culpables (Six, we are all guilty) highlights the structural rather than personal character of these attitudes and behaviors. At the same time, in addition to the joy to be found in the musical performances sprinkled through the show, including a Spanish-language version of Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors," Seis includes examples of love for trans women that are no less potent for being linked to loss. In one such instance, Mattei delivers an outstanding performance as a father frustrated at the lack of official action regarding his daughter's murder (the show emphasizes that many if not most such crimes go unsolved or unprosecuted), not to mention his anger at the suggestion that he might be relieved to have a problem removed from his life. In another, Fontanals, similarly terrific, plays a shopkeeper who recounts the excitement of her developing friendship with a trans woman, one which abruptly ends when the woman disappears.

The show's divisions are marked by mentions of the murders of and lack of justice for each of the titular six women, whose names are pointedly listed during the opening part of a frame that bookends the play in a manner that recalls the memorializing naming undertaken by Black Lives Matter. The play progresses from a wider queer context to its focus on trans women, and its description of the violence visited on trans bodies becomes more explicit as it does so. The narratives include some striking images, including the indelible image of one woman dead in the bottom of a well with one arm upraised as if appealing for succor. In a wordless and evocative complement to such images, empty chairs, each a color from the pride flag, accumulate over the course of the show, culminating in an intensely moving gesture and tableau. From its start to this finish, Teatro Círculo's production of Seis is humorous, heart-breaking, and human.

-John R. Ziegler and Leah Richards  


  1. A very human, compelling, story indeed. We couldn't agree more with you. Thank you so much for supporting latino/bilingual/indie theater in NYC.


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