Life begins after seventy. Or so three elderly women believe. It’s time to get revenge on the society that has labelled them ‘past it’. Against families that have abandoned them in a old people’s home. And so, the militant Mariví, the desperate Margarita and the childlike Mari Paz form an elderly army, battling against the physical and social constraints of their age. Temporarily, the women discover a new lease of life. Through bittersweet humour, Las aeróbicas presents us with the rebellion of three individuals who refuse to grow old gracefully.
Las aeróbicas is divided into ten short scenes. In scene 1, two elderly women, Mari Paz (73 years old) and Margarita (78 years old), are using exercise bikes in a gym. Margarita is planning to escape on her bike, which Mari Paz has the task of releasing by pulling a lever. When this happens, the scene ends in a fantastical fashion as Margarita exits the gym through a window on her now-mobile bike.
Scene 2 takes place inside the home for the elderly where all three characters reside. Margarita’s attempt to escape has left her battered and bruised. However, Mariví, the youngest of the women at 71, encourages her to escape again. The most militant of the group, Mariví convinces Margarita and Mari Paz to join her in a war against ‘the family’ – an entity which she condemns for taking advantage of, and then abandoning, elderly relatives.
In scene 3, having escaped from the old people’s home, the women frolic in a public fountain at night. Aches and pains are temporarily forgotten as they rediscover the joy of being free. They move on, in scene 4, to secure a military base in Mariví’s former home. Having sent her to live in the old people's home, Mariví’s daughter and son-in-law had taken over her house. Taking advantage of the fact that Mariví's relations are away on holiday, the women settle in.
Scene 5 marks the beginning of the women’s war on the family. In a shopping mall they try and recruit more elderly women for their cause. These ‘Senior Slaves’ are accosted in various parts of the shopping mall as the women try to alert them to their vulnerable position as physically weak individuals at the mercy of their grown-up children’s decisions and desires. Eventually, however, the women are forced to flee when security guards are alerted. In scene 6 they retreat to Mariví’s old house once again. Margarita is fixated on a photo album she has been carrying around and keeping to herself. Touchingly, the other two women discover that, rather than containing photos, it contains the death notices of friends. Utterly miserable, Margarita tries to throw herself out of the window. In a bid to lift her spirits, Mariví distributes alcohol and her son-in-law’s cocaine. The women enjoy both and the mood becomes merry. In scene 7 they decide to try to sell some of the cocaine to elderly people enjoying a night out. They need to make money in order to reach the sea – an obsession symbolic of their desire for freedom.
Once again, however, the women’s efforts to mobilise other old people fail and they return in scene 8 to their base in Mariví's former home. Suddenly, they hear someone. Thinking it is Mariví’s son-in-law, they attack the intruder. To their surprise, they discover they have knocked out the gym instructor Franki and decide to make him their prisoner of war. Disguising themselves in the nearest thing they can find – kinky masks with flashing penises on the forehead – they scare poor Franki into thinking he is in purgatory. He is left terrified, gagged and tied up as the scene ends.
The journey into new territory for these three women continues in scene 9. Mari Paz and Mariví have a tender and vaguely sexual encounter in the marital bed of Mariví’s daughter. They are interrupted by Margarita who reacts jealously to their behaviour. The argument between Mariví and Margarita that ensues is interrupted by the sound of a door slamming. Franki has escaped and this heralds the imminent arrival of the police. Margarita suggests a place where they can hide ... the gym.
In scene 10 all three women now sit on exercise bikes in the gym. They hear the sounds of people coming to arrest them for their crimes of breaking and entering, kidnap and drug-pushing. Cornered, they pedal harder. As they pedal faster, magically, their bikes sail out of the window. The play ends with this fantastical flight to freedom.
The sight of the women escaping the police at the end of the play references the bike flying scene from Steven Spielberg's 1982 film, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.
Rodríguez, Maxi. 2007. ‘Las aeróbicas (Delirio otoñal)’, La Ratonera, 21, 48-74. Available online at http://www.la-ratonera.net/numero21/n21_aerobicas.html (Online Publication)
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Entry written by Gwynneth Dowling. Last updated on 18 November 2010.