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<<  -- 3 --  David Wilkins    MARIA OF HOPE OR DESPAIR?

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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
'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
'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.

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Copyright © 16 May 2004 David Wilkins, Eastbourne UK

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