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Kafka-ish: Kafka @Finborough

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In offering proof that Kafka is everything to everyone - writer-performer Jack Klaff plays various roles, including the man himself in what is a part tour, part immersion and part legend of Franz Kafka. He is a writer who achieved fame after his life was cut short due to succumbing to tuberculosis at the age of forty. He is probably better known for his reputation and the Kafkaesque style attributed to his writing than his life. But after this piece, you’re left curious to learn more about the man and his works. And that has to be the best theatrical tribute you could give a writer, even for a writer who stipulated that his works be destroyed upon his death. It’s currently playing at the Finborough Theatre . Franz Kafka was born in Prague in 1883. In 1901, he was admitted to a university and began studying law. While studying, he met Max Brod, who would become his best friend and eventual literary executor. Brod would posthumously publish many of his works and writings. Kafka’s life co

Love is all you need: The Island @cervantesthtr

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A drama set on the seventh floor of a non-descript hospital waiting room may not be everyone's idea of a great night at the theatre. But love and all other forms of the human condition are dissected in Juan Carlos Rubio's The Island. Translated by Tim Gutteridge, it feels like everything is up for grabs. What is love? Is it a bond between two women with a fifteen-year age gap? Is it the love between a mother and her son with a severe unknown disability? A wonderful life full of health and happiness is not always an option on the menu, and the choices may become a bit less palatable. Throughout a series of sometimes banal conversations, what comes out is a story of two women with lives that are separate and together. And while the piece becomes darker on one level as it progresses, it never ceases to fascinate and draw further insights into the couples. It's currently playing at the Cervantes Theatre .  A couple waits in a hospital waiting room for the outcome of an accident

Travelin' Through: Broken Toys @CervantesTheatr

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Things are a bit different at the Cervantes Theatre when you see Broken Toys. You enter through the upstairs dressing rooms and go down to the theatre. It is a circuitous route, much like the story of Marion. You end up in the same place but have taken a different journey. And like what the old prostitute said. It's not the work but the stairs. And there before you is the theatre, but not entirely as I recall it. It feels like an intimate cabaret venue with tables and a shiny stage. And there we are introduced to Marion. Marion grew up in a small town during the Franco regime. A place where looking a bit different could make you the subject of gossip and a threat to your life. And despite being assigned male at birth and the attempts of family and father figures, she was an outsider in her town.  And so Marion sets off on a journey to the city. And in the shadows, she finds a place to hide. But with guidance from drag performer Dorian Delacroix begins to find her voice. Her journe

Signs of life online and in concert...

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While theatre is slowly showing signs of reopening in the coming month I’ve seen my first show indoors. In Italy. A concert. No temperature checks just leave your name and wear a mask throughout the concert. And sit relatively apart from strangers within a small church where the concert was taking place. It was great to see something. Anything. After so many months.  The transmission rates are lower in Italy, and they do appear to be taking Covid19 a lot more seriously than in the UK. Leaving your name and phone number is a requirement. Posters are everywhere reminding people to wash their hands and keep a distance. Indoor spaces are well ventilated. Everyone wears a mask without making a fuss. Hopefully following these simple rules without over-complicating things will allow venues to open up where possible.  Until then, The Public Campaign for the Arts has launched a new online platform, creating an unprecedented support link between UK citizens and their cultural organisations. The

Night and day: The Reality @CervantesTheatr

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What's real and what's imagined seem to be at the heart of The Reality. A new piece of writing by Denise Despeyroux and translated by Sarah Maitland. It's currently playing at the Cervantes Theatre . Told over a series of video chats, one sister is dying, and the other has to become more like her. Or is that what's happening? Is there a good sister and a darker sister? One sister who loves life and the other despair. As the sisters converse, it becomes less clear what really is happening and what are the games being played here. Maite Jáuregui holds your attention throughout, with her energetic performance as the darker sister. Full of rage and anger. Walking into the theatre, she is repeatedly chanting. It was quite an achievement as she had to do it for an extra five minutes due to latecomers. But the pre-recorded video of her alternate sister feels more like a gimmick and is often a distraction instead of supporting the drama and themes of the piece. Never

This empty world: Yerma @CervantesTheatr

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There’s a hint of melancholy from the outset with Yerma. She’s been married for a while and without a child. While all those around her have children. But it still doesn’t prepare you for what lies ahead in this emotional reinterpretation that shifts the action to pre-revolution Cuba. Federico García Lorca’s tragic poem is currently playing at the Cervantes Theatre . Performed in both English and Spanish. The English translation is by Carmen Zapata and Michael Dewell. As Yerma, Leila Damiola inhabits the role and is astounding. She moves from hope and optimism to despair as the years go by without the child she craves. As each scene concludes its as if she is suffering a new heartbreak as she gradually realises she’s trapped in a loveless and barren marriage. Opposite her is Tom Whitlock as Juan, her cold and detached husband. He is often out all evening working the farm, and so he enlists his sister to watch Yerma. So people don’t talk. But they’ll talk anyway. Coco Mbassi is also a s

Keeping up appearances: The House of Bernarda Alba @SpanishTheatreC

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You’re never in doubt with this production of The House of Bernarda Alba that the heat and the attitudes are oppressive in this small Spanish town. A thin veneer of respectability and status barely conceals the urges and desires lurking beneath. And women, as second class citizens have only gossip, traditions and the church to cling to. This passionate, topical and emotional production is currently playing at the Cervantes Theatre  near Southwark, in both English and Spanish.