theatre review: fuentes ovenjua

20 07 2008

Since I’ve probably been seeing more theatre than I’ve been reading recently – it’s so hard living in a theatre town 😉 – I thought I would expand the focus a bit and write about some of the things I’ve seen recently.

Yesterday, I saw Fuente Ovejuna (pronounced Foo-EN-tay Oh-veh-HOO-na as the Stratford website helpfully tells us) and it was quite a remarkable production.  The one word that came to mind was “odd” – I know that doesn’t sound complementary, but I mean it in the best possible sense.

Fuente is the story of a small town who is ruled over by the corrupt Commander Guzman.  He and his men ravage the town – particularly the women – in any way they see fit.  The town eventually comes together to overthrow the tyrant and his men, proclaiming afterwards that “Fuente Ovejuna did it.”

The play is quite a mix.  There are certainly dramatic elements and there is some violence on stage, but there is also a great deal of humour, and some very memorable lines.  The director, Laurence Boswell, has also written the new adaptation they are using and he has updated the language, which is maybe where the oddness comes from, or maybe it was some of the over-the-top elements that contributed to that.  It was funny and human, but just in the oddest way.

The only choice I didn’t really care for was the slow-motion staging that was used for the violence.  I realize that the intention may have been to have the audience really focuses on the brutality of the moment, but I found that I actually felt more removed with everything being slowed down.

There are some very powerful performances in this production, most notably Sara Topham as Laurencia, whose call to action after being abused by Guzman and his men is simply breathtaking.

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2 responses

20 07 2008
Sally

Well said, but you forgot to mention the funny bit with the fashion commentary. No doubt this will be on your “must see again” list.

Sally

25 08 2008
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