A woman in her 50s hides her inability to read or write in debuting helmer Moises Sepulveda’s stage-bound adaptation of Pablo Paredes’ play “Illiterate.” The sort of Afterschool Special-style item that might appeal to teachers’ unions, this clunky two-hander, in which both characters have secrets they reluctantly share, wouldn’t be playing outside Chile if not for the presence of Pauline Garcia, deservedly riding high after her star turn in “Gloria.” Unfortunately, she can’t save “Illiterate” from its self-concious source or Sepulveda’s unimaginative conception.
Solitary Ximena (Garcia) has mastered strategies for getting people to read signs she can’t interpret. Then Jackeline (Valentina Muhr) turns up, offering to read her the newspaper as her mother, Ximena’s late neighbor, once did. The young woman has a teaching degree and is eager to put it to use, but Ximena resists the semi-humiliation of being taught until Jackeline convinces her, thanks to a carefully preserved letter from Ximena’s father, which the illiterate woman now wants to decipher. Sepulveda and Paredes’ script is strictly by-the-book, unimaginatively divided into exposition, confession, catharsis. Lensing barely opens up the play, and music is intrusive.