Like his first piece, Living With the Lights On, Mark Lockyer’s “love letter to Spain” is an intense, sprawling monologue of inner and outer experiences, realisations of recent and distant past, delivered in an entertaining attack of sincerity.
Unlike his first piece, Keep on Walking, Federico is set in an anonymous “authentically Spanish” village on the coast, a superficially idyllic place that has been invaded by expats. Here, beneath the facade of soft sand and blue sea, sordid truths lie: veins of immorality and corruption (the men) and sorrow and deception (for the women). Deeper still, Spain’s dark and violent past bubbles, not yet exhumed from earth too expensive to be buried in, but certainly For Sale when it comes to ugly and illegal tourist apartment blocks.
It was just before the rain and the atmosphere in the theatre was stifling. This contributed to the piece, set in the summertime, in which Mark plays both narrator and all the parts: Pepe the amiable barman, Ramona the sultry gypsy, Dr. Bueno the local dictator, as well as Mark’s own sweet, struggling mum.
At times it is a bit BBC drama, with Lockyer alone pulling in the strings and tying up their loose ends for us. Sudden shifts in direction, and the heat building in the theatre, left little breathing space for the audience; some alarming truths were washed away with other stories that demanded a different emotional response.
Most effective for me, though, was the sense of being a modern stranger, less Lorca, to whom the piece pays homage, than Camus (although admittedly I haven’t read much Lorca!). There is a mother’s death, an Arabic twist, Spanish accents that did sound a bit like French… Could Mark be a modern Meursault? Not indifferent, but an outsider: a guy who has lost his French cool beneath the persecutory Spanish summer sun?
As in his previous piece, Mark’s journey is defined by his own perception / misperception of what’s going on. For anyone in a foreign place it’s an exhausting experience trying to make sense of the details of life by osmosis. You become used to listening too carefully, all senses tuned up to maximum receptor power. Although you know that what’s actually going on is disappointing. Banal dramas fed by your own idealisation, suspicion and insecurities: petty immoralities, missed opportunities, apathy and lazy betrayals, people struggling with themselves.
Keep on Walking, Federico
cia. Actors Touring Company