Friday, 16 August 2013

Histoire d'amour

Kings Theatre
Two stars
When a school-teacher spots an attractive young woman on the train, he 
decides there and then that he'll marry her. He gets there eventually 
in Chilean company Teatro Cinema's rendering of Regis Jauffret's 
unrelenting novel, but before that he stalks her, rapes her, beats her 
and violates her in every way imaginable, and that's just on the night 
he first sees her. Beyond this, the man becomes dangerously obsessed 
with the woman he learns is named Sofia, his self-loathing manifesting 
itself in flashes of rage in a blindly self-deluded one-sided courtship 
until, finally, she acquiesces.

This is an ugly little piece of male fantasy wish fulfilment which, in 
Teatro Cinema's hands, becomes a comic book strip cartoon writ large, 
complete with speech bubbles, as actors Julian Marres and Bernardita 
Montero interact with a meticulously synchronised set of animations in 
director Juan Carlos Zagal's production.

The story is told through the man's increasingly brutal interior 
monologue, while, significantly, Sofia barely says a word, made 
voiceless by the man, and indeed Jauffret's, objectification. Instead 
Montero murmurs Sofia’s protest while being flung around the stage in 
gracefully choreographed scenes of psychological and physical abuse. 
Such counterpoints of physical beauty with acts of violence is at odds 
with such an ugly story.

So absurd do the man's justifications for his actions become that at 
one point you think he's going to wake up on the train and realise it 
was all a crazy dream. While there's no doubt that men lust after women 
on public transport, to give such extreme behaviour some kind of 
existential weight does Teatro Cinema's stunningly realised aesthetic 
no favours.

The Herald, August 16th 2013

ends

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