By David Walters
“I come from the southernmost place you can possibly imagine,” begins Florencia Iriondo’s intro in the one-woman musical South now playing at Soho Playhouse. It’s the beginning of a universally uplifting journey of a life of family and friends that bolsters her identity and contributes to the woman you see in front of you. Florencia is charming and grounded in her presentation and filled with joy in the songs she sings and the story of her life that she shares.
This is a story of a life universally lived by most people. There are no great tragedies (even as her parents divorce they still all get together every Sunday for dinner) or great traumas to overcome. There is only growing up, being cared for, and caring for others that makes for a life of belonging, an understanding of home, and an evening of warmth. When her life is flipped upside down because of a move, it’s the beginning of the creation of a duality within herself that she always has to contend with. As she becomes accustomed to and integrates into US culture, she realizes that she will always be of two worlds, straddling North and South, a Southern and a Northern American.
It’s 1992 and she is ten years old as this story, with a lovely and captivating musical score, begins. Living in Ushuaia, Argentina right next door to her grandmother and the cacophony of family and friends that pour in and out of her home, her mother meets her at the door with a tray of warm cheese bread as she’s coming home from school to tell her that her world is to be turned upside down. Her mother received a job offer in New York City and the family was going. They were leaving the world she knew.
Florencia’s life journey after that, to discover who she is and where she belongs, is nostalgic in that it is laced with love for where she has come from that informs the woman she is becoming. That love extends directly from her out to the audience as she gently interacts and shares her life.
Iriondo is accompanied by two incredible musicians (and I get to use the word dulcet here), guitarists Federico Diaz and Agustin Uriburu on both cello and guitar. I cannot say enough about the blending of her voice, the music, and the story. Estupenda! Florencia’s voice is strong and distinct and floats on the intriguing and compelling sounds coming from the two musical performers on stage. Not to take anything away from Florencia as she is compelling to watch and listen to, but there were times that I spent watching the artistry of the musicians supporting her. There is a sense that she has created that you are in her home and you’re an invited guest taking part in an evening of music, stories, food, mate, and wine (in which you will have a chance to taste a bit of Argentina). You will hear stories about her Tina Turner-loving grandmother who taught her to color outside the lines, about the bond she built with the younger sister that she did not want, but mostly, and most importantly, Florencia is able to bring about the sense of home that we all have within us (or at least yearn for), “You are at home because YOU are home.” An enchanting and wonderful gift to all who attend.
South, book and lyrics by Florencia Iriondo; music by Florencia Iriondo, Luis D’Elias, and Federico Diaz; music direction by Federico Diaz; dramaturgy by Chris Burney.
Musical performers, Federico Diaz and Luis D’Elias.
Currently performing at Soho Playhouse (15 Vandam St.) through November 15, 2023. For tickets and information, click HERE
To listen to the album on Spotify: open.spotify.com/album/1OtbDjOUpEukKI6ovf1Gb9?si=7HOM8mz0TJK-hk0HZQVpGA.
The performance schedule is: Mondays – Wednesdays at 7:00PM. Exceptions: There will be no performances on Mondays and Tuesdays in September. A performance will not be held on Tuesday October 31. Running time approximately 90 minutes with no intermission.
Tickets for South begin at $31 and are on sale now at sohoplayhouse.com/upcoming-events/south.
As always, this is just one person’s opinion in a world filled with them.