Jordi Casanovas is the award-winning author of play Els Millors Ocasions (The Good Times) which was staged at his little Sala Flyhard theatre near Sants (Barcelona). Directed by Ferran Utzet, the play is a darkly comic example of Catalan noir.
Set in a men’s toilet in a train station, Alonso is the TV journalist who is handcuffed to a water pipe by a pair of hired thugs, the veteran Moreno and his sidekick Carrasco. Their aim is to forcibly extract a confession, yet for what and for who is not clear to any of them.
Els Millors Ocasions contemplates authority and responsibility, where it once was and the difficulty of locating it now: “It’s not like the good old days when things weren’t so fuzzy” Moreno laments. Yet, more than just a quirky comparative of past and present, the play more poignantly deals with persistent self-denial and its role in inertia. As the hostage situation prolongs overnight, it becomes clear that all three of them are trapped there by an equally rigid form of dictatorship, waiting for instruction that, when it finally arrives, clarifies in diagrammatic detail what it fails to in meaning.
Els Millors Ocasions is a moody, menacing play, the threat of violence simmering in a soup of sentimental moments and cheesy classic tunes. Yet while the style has already been championed by filmmakers Quentin Tarantino and Martin McDonagh (In Bruges), rather than pulping it up with culty actors and special effects, Casanovas focuses on the failures – ‘pastiching the pastiche’, with characters that struggle to fit into clichés grafted from the movies, including those of Tarantino.
The pseudo-world that characters create not only extends to their deeds and dress and diction, but also to their feelings – and here is where the play is at its darkest. Moreno attempts to portray himself as a character out of fiction, a family man in it for the money, yet, as brilliantly played by Ramon Vila, not even he seems convinced. Carrasco (Jordi Rico), old enough to know better, likes to think he’s whipped up in the romance of guns and flash suits, yet he’s easily provoked into unpaid violence. Even their captive Alonso (Norbert Martínez) is prepared to put his family at risk for a bit of petty revenge.
Els Millors Occasions is a verbose male play, like therapy with a bottle of Smirnoff and Reservoir Dogs. Yet while Tarantino’s characters are attractive in their comic-book control, Casanovas’ are more genuinely menacing because they terrify themselves.
Els Millors Ocasions by Jordi Casanovas (left)
Sala Flyhard (until October 8th)
The play is in fast Catalan
Thanks to Mr Casanovas for the play script.
Thanks to R Blanch and David Ruano for the photos.