Nell Leyshon’s rural idyll under an avalanche of apples

It is autumn, the trees are already bare and the apples ripe; in fact, in this Catalan production of Nell Leyshon’s Comfort Me With Apples they are positively gleaming: an impassioned red, a vivid green, and that strange pale Fuji variety that taste like soap. The plentiful presence of the fruit, tumbling from the heavens… Read more »

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Protagonist – Human Nature and Narcissism

Protagonist: Cullberg Ballet / Jefta van Dinther

Without recourse to technological statements or politically-correct diatribes, Protagonist, created by the Dutch/Swedish choreographer Jefta van Dinther for Sweden’s Cullberg Ballet, averts the shock tactics that audiences now expect from contemporary dance performances. Semi-dressed dancers on a semi-dressed stage: red, black; a frame at the back could be scaffolding or gymnastics bars (and are used as both)…. Read more »

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La Visita de la Vella Dama: macabre take on a creepy classic

Catalan adaptation of the play by Friedrich Dürrenmat

Sharp-toothed tragi-comedy La Visita de La Vella Dama (Der Besuch der Alten Dame), directed by Jordi Palet Puig with Vicky Peña and Xavier Capdet in the leading roles, works great in this astute Catalan adaptation that uses creepy puppets as characters, the work of the inventive Farrés brothers. Written in the 1950s by the politically-active… Read more »

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Begin the Beguine – A Dance of Death

Further proof that we live in the age of hysteria in the guise of meaningful action comes from the Belgian director Jan Lauwers and his theatre troupe Needcompany. Begin the Beguine is the last work of the American filmmaker John Cassavetes, written, but never produced, before he died of cirrhosis of the liver in 1989…. Read more »

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Madrid – Live In Theater revives La Movida Madrileña

Live in Theatre - Madrid

Immersive theatre creates a world in a set space, in which audiences are invited to experience a three-dimensional fiction meticulously created and controlled by invisible puppet masters. Interactive theatre, on the other hand, is rough and ready – the city itself becomes a backdrop and a protagonist in an unfolding drama, and the audience directly… Read more »

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Massacre! a bullet point history of Spanish capitalism

Marta Calvó and Alberto San Juan in Masacre Photo © David Ruiz

The average worker – aka the Spanish middle classes – is the focal point of a satirical stage production by the Madrid-based cooperative Teatro del Barrio. Masacre (Massacre) is an informative and incredulity-inducing theatre piece that covers some 100 years of Spanish economic history in just 80 minutes. The production features prominent Spanish actors Alberto San Juan… Read more »

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Overcooked Adaptation of Ibsen’s Wild Duck

Pablo Derqui and Ivan Benet in L'ànec salvatge (The Wild Duck) based on the play by Henrik Ibsen. Photo © Ros Ribas.

Hanging on the branches of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen’s brilliant tragicomedy, this humourless Catalan adaptation of The Wild Duck (L’ànec salvatge) turned complex character-archetypes into filmic clichés. This 1884 play was an excellent choice by director Julio Manrique. Its predominant theme of blinded idealism and addiction to abstracts over human relationships, exemplified in the missionary… Read more »

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Jane Eyre: Of Liberation and Love…

Ariadna Gil as Jane Eyre. Photo © Ros Ribas

Featuring a breath-taking performance by Ariadna Gil, this Catalan theatre adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre distances itself from the bleak, freezing Yorkshire moors, and reimagines the North as a stiflingly formal, anonymous lobby with a grand piano and four identical doors reflected ad infinitum in vast mirrors at each end. Gil plays the eponymous… Read more »

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La Mare: Unflinching Drama of a Mother in Crisis

In a 2015 British production of La Mère, a contemporary French play by Florian Zeller, actress Gina McKee appeared ‘ghost-like’ in the lead (The Guardian). In the Catalan-language production La Mare, a local version of the play directed by Andrés Lima, Emma Vilarasau (pictured above) takes on the complex role of Anne, a mother in her 50s who suffers a… Read more »

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Història: A Play of Shifting Perspectives

Història - Sixto Paz Productions Photo: © Kiku Pinyol

The shocks and infidelities of history and memory are explored in Història, a small format theatre production brought to Barcelona’s Espai Lliure after a successful run at Sala Beckett. This narratively and visually engaging piece is the work of Catalan playwright Jan Vilanova Claudín in collaboration with director and actor Pau Roca, and features strong… Read more »

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