Montserrat @ Rich Mix (CASA Latin American Festival 2015) Review

Montserrat ignites, emotes and revels within the Casa Latin American Theatre Festival, currently taking place at both Rich Mix and the Barbican. Presented for the festival, Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol (Mexico) Theatre Company, devises, captivates and beguiles in a wonderfully truthful and emotive production of Montserrat.

Montserrat

When Gabino was six, his father came into his bedroom and told him his mother had died. Years later, Gabino felt an urgent need to discover who is mother had been. Tracing her life, loves and losses this is the story of Gabino’s investigation. The plot, characters and stories you discover along the way promise to thrill, engage, entertain and surprise. It is important to note before analysing, that this production is both based on real events and personal stories experienced by Gabino, who is in fact the co-founder of the Mexican Theatre company, Lagartijas Tirados al Sol.

Montserrat is a multimedia show alluding to a projection screen, a laptop, video footage, music and the ever intriguing use of English subtitles. This production is unique in identity; it is a Spanish solo performer production, which is guided with subtitles for non native speakers. Although, this is a distinctive feature of the show and adds to the multimedia dimension, it is often hard to concentrate, both distancing the action and spoken word. Imagine, if you will, sitting in the back row of the auditorium attempting to read subtitles, whilst also endeavouring to catch the action and direction of the piece. As an audience member I find this alienating, with an irritation aimed at missing both vital information, key movement and set changes. I often find the piece inhibiting, both the timing and grammatical structure of the subtitles are also often incorrect and add to the personal exasperation, of having to comprehend a ‘widescreen’ production that feels so distanced. However, throughout the production it becomes evident that the instance I miss a set of subtitles I am truly saddened, proving the engagement of oneself as an audience member, which can be only stated as a positive.

Gabino himself inspires and amuses with his intense sense of desperation, urgency and denial, engaging audience members to withhold information that could further develop his story and therefore investigation. As the solo performer he is interesting, stimulating and intriguing, his sense of identity and complexities faced within his life prove to be gripping. He captivates audience members into his life, longing and search for the truth, breathing light into an ever-changing plot and characterisation.

This production is entirely immersive with each audience member engaging with the investigation in varied dimensions, each developing a sense of story and attachment. A dramatic device employed by Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol, is the use of video clips and photographs which are used as an enhancement towards the action, entrancing the audience into different modes of both emotion and intensity. Gabino Rodriguez, performs a persuasive character which is complex, self-defined and exclusive.

As Montserrat is a show about life, death and interaction, the atmosphere is at first unnerving; however this later develops into a sense of mutual agreement between both performer and spectator, with a sense of confidentiality of information. This therefore creates intrigue, experiencing something that often feels exclusive, restricted and private, heightening the sense of adventure. Within the production there is a connotation of a multitude of themes which include love, loss, regret, and growth. Whilst watching the production it is evident there is a definite sense of ownership played out by the performer having given personal accounts, experiences and letters.

With simply one performer this production is self defined, unique and independent from any assumptions. It is a production of depth, allusion and consumption of complexities. It began with me questioning the believability of the production, but ended with a sense of gravitas and naturalism. All of the detailing is intricate, featuring a story of individuality and self absorption. I leave the production contemplating possible ways a piece can both remain true to its identity (language) whilst also being accessible to all audience members; I hope to see a show that fulfils this soon. 2/5

Review written by Meg Mattravers.

Montserrat was shown at Rich Mix on Saturday 3rd October. For more information on the production, visit here…

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