As the world (and stage) turns

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THE TRUTH AT LONG LAST

I attended in Madrid the première, in Portuguese, of "Bella Figura". It was part of the foreign activities of Portugal's Ministry of Culture. In Spain theater plays have been steadily going downslope for many a reason. Basically lack of interest from low-income youngsters (scripts, atrezzi and actors are expensive) who prefer pubs or videos if not both in the same package. While Mexico city bursts with theatrical activities and one can attend there a show which is being played simultaneously in London or NYC, in nowadays Madrid producers don't risk a single penny in the name of Theater. Unless you like political re-education, the only plays compatible with left-wing governments' grants are more or less dogmatic left-wing plays or subversion of so-called "conventional" values by nudities and sex which basically aiming at "épater le bourgeois". Otherwise Lope de Vega it is, because he's been dead long enough to claim author's rights. This said I would sum up the Portuguese version of "Bella Figura" as "excellent actors in a mediocre play" (from Madrid they're going to Germany). The "Teatro Nacional Sao Joao" crew was great and the scenography perhaps more sober and less effective than what has been seen in other countries. In my view "Bella Figura" is way below other works by Yasmine Reza. Repetitive too, as she tries to apply her old formulas and tricks with poorer results. If the play intends to be a critical portrait of small-minded provincial societies its message is lost in outer space. The whole story could be national, provincial or suburban. Rather irrelevant in the end. There is not sufficient insight of the main players for such criticism ("O tempora, o mores!") to materialise the proper way. The final nakedness of the Teatro Nacional actors is, I suppose, a cliche attempt in exposing the ugliness of these Bella Figura car-crash dummies. Much to my relief I found part of the audience to share my views. And much to my relief too, I found myself in a swinging section or Madrid where I could be provincial without need of Yasmine Reza trying to disect me without the proper instruments.

Jaime Garcia-Rodriguez y A. more than 1 year ago

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