The Actors Centre – until 8 February 2020
Reviewed by Claire Roderick
Showing as part of the Latin American Season at the Actors Centre, Abilio Estévez’s Freddie is an intense but captivating monologue, with a riveting performance by Santiago del Fosco and assured direction from Camila González Ortiz.
Freddie is alone in his room with only a shrine to his idol, Freddie Mercury, and a gun for company. Silent as the audience file in, Freddie steels himself for what is to come and announces that we are here on a momentous day and will witness a miraculous event. Just what this event will be is unclear, and Freddie is a very unreliable narrator, but always shows clarity and certainty when discussing his gun. The thrill of not knowing which pull of the trigger will release the single bullet in the chamber makes Freddie bolder with his confessions, but is he speaking the truth or performing a fantastic tale for us or himself?
The language of Kate Eaton’s translation is rich and poetic, with the repeated refrain of the gun grounding each section. Is Freddie a murderer, a prisoner or a patient? Are the people banging outside his captors or saviours? The narrative loops around, swerving between facts, half-truths and flights of fancy, but always returning to the fleeting nature of life and the disappointment of reality compared to dreams. Freddie’s obsession with Freddie Mercury seems to be the only true joy in his life, but this just highlights the pain of his existence. Dreaming of transformation into a version of Mercury at his extravagant and flamboyant best, Freddie’s godlike being only wants to give pleasure and happiness to those he sees, and the desolation he feels when he accepts the impossibility of this is palpable.
Santiago del Fosco is mesmerising as Freddie, simmering with a turmoil of emotions and portraying Freddie’s coping mechanism of mimicking/ transforming into his idol with theatrical gestures that are immediately relatable to Mercury. The hour flies by in an emotionally exhausting but thought-provoking whirl – wonderful.