by Ana Diosdado translated by Patricia W O’Connor.

Orange Tree Theatre 1 Clarence Street TW9 2SA To 6 October 2012.
Mon-Sat 7.45pm Mat Sat 3pm & (+ post-show discussion).
Audio-described .
Runs 2hr 40min One interval.

TICKETS: 020 8940 3633.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 8 September.

Hard work at first, but surprisingly throwing-up plot twists of which a crime writer would be proud.
What does anybody know about anybody else? David Antrobus’ characters, collectively named ‘The Man in the Street’ in Spanish writer Ana Diosdada’s 1973 play, become involved in the central trio’s lives at various points – as grumbling porter, insistent editor, enthusiastic agent, official coroner, but none has any idea what lies behind what they see in front of them.

The point’s eventually encapsulated as the Coroner announces his verdict on the unexpected death resulting from complex interactions between journalist Juan, his partner Celia and Susi, the model he’s been interviewing. Two of these, like photographer Manny, share the name Gomez.

Within minutes, three characters are knocking on doors that won’t open; there’s separation and argument among the connectivity. The working relation between Juan and Manny, neither friends nor enemies as they say, is the nearest to trouble-free.

Susi’s image hangs round the auditorium in poses of sexual challenge and vulnerability, in contrast to her own anxiety and naivety. And nothing’s for anyone’s asking, as relations become more complex and the widening scope of the second half reveals the manipulation that has bought her glamorous image and brought her public hatred, adding a thrillerish plot to the personal relations, although the two elements never fit easily together.

Long the lone female voice in the theatre of Franco’s Spain, which it turned out was near its end by the time of this play, Diosdado was doubtless responding to the elements of frustration an autocracy that outgrew its time created, something seen in Juan’s emotional paralysis and indecision.

It’s also apparent that, among Mediterranean fascists, while Mussolini might have had the trains running punctually, Franco couldn’t get the lifts to work. But the self-protecting schemes of big business are evident in any country where big business has power, commercial or political.

Designer Katy Mills puts her faith in a collage-covered desk that serves for all objects and spaces. It makes patching events together less easy at first, but Sam Walters, a director used to elusive playwrights, eventually ties everything snappily together in not a great but an intriguing find of this theatre’s ever-adventurous repertoire.

Juan: Steven Elder.
Celia: Rebecca Pownall
Manny: James Joyce.
Susi: Mia Austen.
Coroner/Martinez/Neighbour/Porter/Advertising Agent: David Antrobus.

Director: Sam Walters.
Designer: Katy Mills.
Lighting: John Harris.
Music arranger: Matthew Strachan.
Trainee directors: Alexander Lass, Nadia Papachronopoulou.

2012-09-10 17:41:38

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