Cuzco by Victor Sánchez Rodríguez and translated by William Gregory
Theatre503(15 minute walk from Clapham Junction) to 16th February
70 Minutes, No interval
Review Info: Veronica Stein, 28th January, 2019.
He and She are in unfamiliar territory in the physical sense: the two Spaniards have made a getaway to Peru’s Cuzco. In the figurative sense, the territory is familiar to anyone who has been in a relationship going south; the passion is stale and they are also at a stalemate.
Victor Sanchez Rodriguez’s play (translated by William Gregory) in its English debut begins with the two travellers in stark contrast, She in bed with sunglasses on indoors, He knackered from taking in the city all day. What starts with a simple disagreement about her lack of interest in going to dinner- or leaving the room altogether, gives way to the recurring issues she has with the whole trip: She is continually lured away from the potentially problematic tourist excursions and instead feels both guilty around and fascinated by the natives in Cuzco, for whom her presence as a Spaniard potentially brings up both pain and judgment.
Though it’s clear allegory is to be made between the colonial past of the couple’s home nation and the state of their relationship, it is unclear who between the two of them is supposed to represent the colonizer and the colonizee. Perhaps her distaste for his employment of the tourist offerings presented to them represents her growing resentment for his presence in general. Perhaps He purposely remains ignorant to her qualms. The writing, especially towards the end, seems to belie such simple conclusions: indeed, what I took from it is that however well-intentioned our misanthropic judgment of our history may be, preoccupation with it may deem us blind to our blessings in the present. Amongst the many illustrative, and plausibly very well translated, lines towards the end of the play, that which stuck with me most is (paraphrased): ‘charity starts with the heap in the bed next to you’.
Gareth Kieran Jones and Dilek Rose both give their characters weight and a sense of realness even when the language skews towards the less realistic, managing to avoid melodrama when it seems inevitable. Their chemistry is good- a tough feat when the characters’ passion is fizzling out. Kate O’Connor’s direction is thoughtful, for even when decisions seem to be disjointed, there is symbolic resonance that suits the narrative, executed nicely by designers Stephanie Williams, Jai Morjaria and Max Pappenheim. Cuzco is moralistic but in what way is up to us, it is indeed thought-provoking, perhaps of more thoughts than it can carry.
He: Gareth Kieran Jones
She: Dilek Rose
Director: Kate O’Connor
Set and Costume Designer: Stephanie Williams
Lighting Designer: Jai Morjaria
Sound Designer: Max Pappenheim
Assistant Director: Alexandra Green
Photo: Holly Lucas