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