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Phil Willmott

Review: THE REALITY at Cervantes Theatre

The Reality - Cervantes Theatre This was my first visit to Cervantes Theatre and I was really impressed. It’s a few doors along from the Union Theatre, where I direct a lot, and occupies a similar floor space seating around 80 people on three sides of the acting area. Whereas the Union makes a charming asset of being shabby chic, this venue feels proper chic with smart matching seats and a cute little bar upstairs.

The venue specialises in Spanish writing, contemporary and classical and often the plays are performed either in English or Spanish depending on what night you go. I’m really looking forward to seeing the rest of the season.

The current production is a one hour, one woman play.

As we enter Maite Jauregui as our central character is incanting a Buddhist chant, repeating the same phrase over and over again. It’s REALLY irritating and a considerable relief when she stops - not a moment too soon. The chanter, referred to in the programme as “Actress”, is frustrated too and we glean that her sister, an on-screen, video-call presence, who has presumably been pre-recorded, is making her do it.

Actresses frustration turns to anger and she oscillates between the two states with very little variety of tone or expression for the entire hour as she swaps new age speak with her sister. I'm embarrassed to admit I struggled to work out quite what first world problem she was so angry and frustrated about.

Little hints emerge through her constant complaining but I completely failed to join the dots and work out what her issues were. She occasionally glanced up the stairs, I think her ailing mother was up there which seemed to make her both guilty and angry. A second guy is mentioned in passing and Actress’s angry and frustrated by him too. Her sister is more chilled but has self-diagnosed her own death, which I suppose would also make me angry and frustrated with a family member.

I think this all might mean something to you if your more clued into Buddhist and new age terminology in the quest for “self” than I am. I became frustrated that I couldn’t get more out of the piece, and that nothing stopped my mind from wandering from all the non-stop, one note, moaning, anger and frustration. The playwright is much acclaimed in Spain so I wish the piece had held my attention and engaged my emotions and intellect more so I could have got a better impression of her work.

The advance publicity bewilderingly invites us to consider “What do you do to pose as someone inside of you? Can you love the living in the same way that you have love for the dead? Is darkness hindered by light?” If that means anything to you then do go along, it’s the play for you, just not for me.

Still, I really like the venue so I’m looking forward to returning for something which I can appreciate more.