by Guillermo Calderon
translated by William Gregory.
Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, London SW1W 8AS to 21 October 2017.
Performances 7pm on 10, 11, 12, 13, 17 & 21 Oct.
9pm on 14,16,18,19 & 20 Oct.
2.30pm on 12 & 21 Oct.
Runs 1 hr 25 mins. No interval.
TICKETS: 020 765 5000.
Review: William Russell
An explosive affair
Two young women, Alejandra and Marcela, part of feminist terrorist movement which favours direct action but not actually blowing places up or killing people get involved with a third terrorist, Jose Miguel, an older man, they have asked to help them stage a protest. But he belongs to a quite different world and generation and they are landed with a bomb. Calderon stages an interesting discussion on the issue of what action is permissible to secure change in society other than through the ballot box, and director Sam Pritchard has secured splendid performances from the cast.
The structure of the play is slightly tricky in that there are tense and terse exchanges for much of the time, bursts of short, staccato, unfinished sentences, and then suddenly each character gets a long and very powerful monologue to deliver which rather upsets the flow. It enlightens about who they are, but also makes what had been a series of realistic encounters between people who do not quite trust one another slightly false.
The set by Chloe Lamford is about as good as it could be – a barren room in what looks like a building that has been boarded up until recently is contained in skeletal scaffolding which rises way up into the flies. It places everyone a kind of limbo, almost defining how divorced from the real world these people are, especially in their refusal to talk about bombs but to discuss cheese and cows instead.
The bomb ends up wrapped inside a birthday present and sits there centre stage threatening to explode any moment. As well as the three activists there is a nosey neighbour who turns out to have agendas of her own. It is an interesting theme, Pritchard screws up the tension effectively, and Caulderon has some pertinent things to say about the militant young as distinct from those who use violence and death to achieve their ends. Aimee-Ffion Edwards as Marcela and Danusia Samai as Alejandra make the two girls quite different, something not there in the writing, and Sarah Niles is both funny and disturbing as the neighbour who keeps coming to call. Paul Kaye as Jose Miguel, masked for much of the time, exudes an air of violent instability which is pretty upsetting.
In the end, of course, he is not the one who brings things to the end one knows will inevitably come – Caulderon has surprises to spring and duly does.
Marcela: Aimee-Ffion Edwards.
Jose Miguel: Paul Kaye.
Carmen: Sarah Niles.
Alejandra: Danusia Samai.
Director: San Pritchard.
Designer: Chloe Lamford.
Lighting Designer: Lizzie Powell.
Composer: Teho Teardo.
Sound Designer: Gareth Fry.
Movement Director: jenny Ogilvie.
Costume Supervisor: Lucy Walshaw.