Thebes Land Review

Arcola Theatre  –  11 September.  Reviewed by Brian Gordon


Translated from Sergio Blanco’s original Uruguayan play in to English by Daniel Goldman as part of this year’s CASA Latin American Theatre Festival, this production in the Arcola Theatre is a step away from the conceptual deliveries of many creations. Daniel also directs and has chosen a great location. The Arcola is inviting and buzzing from stepping through the urban mix match of artistic and social uses of the building, not to dissimilar to the stratums of the play which unfolds.

The stage is intimate and the audience are layered around it, close and involved. The central cage (yes cage) is dominating and the use of CCTV brings the audience into the world of Martin and S’s world as their relationship develops. Trevor White gives a convincing introduction that makes the audience question what they are seeing this evening, art, representation of reality or reality…Is this play or a social experiment. Well representation of reality is of course better than reality isn’t it? S guides you through a steadily increasing translation of the facts, the story and the development of the story. The lines increasingly crossing and the truth blurring.

Martin the protagonist, a convicted patricide, is portrayed by Alex Austin, who demonstrates a vagarious performance via Freddie, the actor selected to play Martin…This third and fourth dimension required and delivered a character with complex transitions between serious, muddled, angry but understandably likeable criminal to middle class, intelligent and often slightly dopey actor… Yoga is not a sport… The linkages to Oedipus are clearly defined and then challenged. He was not aware it was his father he slays, or his mother he married… There is nothing in this play that would make you want to stab your own eyes out…Quite the contrary.

5 stars all round for this polished and accomplished production in a great venue, superb delivery with the audience deathly silent and cracking in laughter within the same context. Alex Austin is one to watch, in this performance as an actor playing and actor playing a complex character he goes from dominant, intense deliveries to funky dance moves and witty role reversals.


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