1936. The Spanish Civil War. One of Spain’s greatest playwrights – Federico García Lorca – is assassinated. His body was never found…But someone must know something…
I will confess, I am not a scholar on the Spanish Civil War or the works of Federico Garcia Lorca and upon entering Brixton East I did wonder if this would get in the way of my enjoyment of the play. It didn’t and I would thoroughly recommend you go and see it.
It took Prav MJ, the Artistic Director three years to find the perfect venue for this play and I can see why she waited. The venue for me was as much a part of this play as the actors and the lines; setting the scene for the play beautifully both in the entrance hall and in the theatre space. By design, there isn’t much to look at in the latter, with few props and a minimal set it really is the acting that carries this play.
Set in the 1930s and 1990s the play depicts the life and death of Spanish Playwright Federico Garcia Lorca at the height of his success during the Spanish Civil War. There is a bold notion of truth that runs throughout with many of the characters searching for their own, leaving little room for the actors to hide in their portrayal. The actor Louis Labovitch is captivating in his lead role as Lorca, not once do you doubt the poetry is his heart or in his actions. The portrayal of Lorca was of a man who knows himself and his beliefs and was steadfast in both and almost cognizant of his fate before it befell him. In stark contrast to this rooted character, was the tortured portrayal of the freedom fighter Trescante, played wonderfully by the talented Charlie Kerson. Trescante is a man overshadowed by his Father’s greatness and more so by his own weaknesses, and as an audience you really are taken on a journey through the depths of this man’s delusions, evoking pity and disdain in equal measures. Alice Pitt-Carter set the stage alight with her passionate portrayal of the Spanish Actress Margarite Xirgu. Embodying the very image of the fiery and tempestuous nature of Spanish women, her character provided both light relief in comic melodramatic moments right before delving in to some of the most poignant and moving scenes in the play without recourse.
There is something to be said for the whole cast although I have to say, for me at least, the portrayal of Trescante’s Father and Alonso was lacking in the truth that the other characters grasped so well, I could hear the poetry of the lines but not necessarily the gravitas behind them. This however, did not detract from the play as a whole. Incredibly well written, directed and performed there was not a dull moment and in such a wonderful setting as Brixton East I would thoroughly recommend it as an enjoyable night out.
Review by Stephanie Caiger-Watson
OLIVES AND BLOOD
CAST: Lorca – Louis Labovitch, Trescante – Charlie Kerson, Francisco/Antonio/Ignacio Sam Churchill, Eduardo/Alonso – Mark Byles, Juan / Galindo – Tom Osborne, The Actress / Madame Xirgu- Alice Pitt-Carter, Soledad – Melissa – Kelly Franklin.
Direction / Set Design – Prav MJ, Playwright – Michael Bradford, Dramaturg – Jaz Dorsey, Costume & Puppet Design – Drika Raposo Mattos, Composer – Maria Camahort, Singer – Lina Leon, Sound & AV Design – Alexandra Braithwaite, Lighting Design – Gareth Prentice, Tech Stage Manager – David Putnam, Assistant to Director – Andrew McRobb, Web Design and PR – Kathryn Gardner @Katalyst PR, Flyer Design – Reinhold Mahler.
Olives and Blood is showing from 23rd October to 10th November 2013
2nd November 2013