<< -- 3 -- David Wilkins MARIA OF HOPE OR DESPAIR?
It all sounds, in cold prose, zany and far too silly. But it works amazingly well. Timothy Davies
(El Duende) doesn't try the poetry-becomes-music inflection of Ferrer but is a red-blooded,
horny-to-the-last obsessive. His jealousy as Maria, with the simplest eye contact or rustle of skirt,
incites the uncontrollable desire of young men is pathetic but very human. Buenos Aires born
Julieta Anahi Frias (Maria) dances with the kind of hormonal charge that schoolboys dream of and grown men
flee from as too omnivorous.
'I searched for God and, shockingly, could only find him in what I love and what I miss...' Photo © Robbie Jack
She sings the piece's extractable hit Yo Soy Maria with more
enthusiasm than identification, perhaps, but it still, as it should, provoked the spontaneous applause
that befits one of the most cutting-edge popular songs of the last century. Sebastien Soules, as the
Payador (inter-alia) has a wonderfully in-your-face, sexy and slightly lisping, voice -- more baritonal
than the occasionally fey tenor of Jairo on the Kremer recording.
'There goes Maria's shadow to her other hell and all the evil of the world seems to flower!' Photo © Robbie Jack
Things turn, as they must, very nasty as the story of the Argentinian 'Disappeared' -- the
Desapareçidos -- emerges as the focal point of the production. The projections become
disturbing photographs of anonymous arrests, tortured bodies, detainees falling suspiciously from high
positions while under questioning. And then of passport or police ID snapshots -- people you might have
known or would have loved to know -- with the red mark of extinction across their faces. It's all very
pertinent. It's all very disturbing. You would have to think, given the lead-time between directorial
conception and theatrical production, that it was all very coincidental. But, of course, this is the
prescience of Ferrer and Piazzolla. They knew that they were writing about our flawed humanity and that,
sadly, what goes-around comes-around. I got no sense whatsoever, in this production, of a current
bandwagon leapt upon -- only, and depressingly, of a darkness waiting to reassert itself.
Copyright © 16 May 2004
David Wilkins, Eastbourne UK