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The Love of Don Perlimplín and Belisa in the Garden

The Cervantes Theatre really is a wonderful place, and incredibly friendly. The cast mingle with the audience in the bar and almost everyone speaks in Spanish. I don’t speak Spanish so, this play could have been difficult to follow, but it is performed in two halves, one in Spanish and one in English, with two separate casts.

The Love of Don Perlimplín and Belisa in the Garden. Photographer Elena Molina.
The Love of Don Perlimplín and Belisa in the Garden. Photographer Elena Molina.

When I took my seat, I was surprised to see a screen with English surtitles written on it. It was quite awkward to look at the screen, as I had to turn away from the stage to read it. Rather than risk getting a stiff neck, I decided to ignore the surtitles and enjoy the play as I would enjoy an opera, and not worry about understanding every word, but enjoy the staging and the pleasing rhythm of the language. It certainly helped that I was already familiar with the story and that so much of the Spanish was quite straightforward and had similarities to Italian, which I have a basic understanding of.

Don Perlimplín (Juan Carlos Talavera) is an elderly man who is a confirmed bachelor, having been scared off marriage as a child when a wife strangled her husband. His servant Marcolfa (Maite Jiménez) is worried about what will happen to him when she dies and decides that he must get married. She determines that their beautiful teenage neighbour Belisa (Maggie Garcia) is the wife for him, an arrangement eagerly agreed to by her mother (Montserrat Roig). The Spanish version of the play is performed quite traditionally, beautifully staged and lit. Immediately afterwards, the play is performed again in English, this time in an updated form. The cast wear modern dress and Perlimplín’s (Paul Rider) young lover Belisa is played by a man (Alex Perez), when Perlimplín overhears him talking to his lover, he is speaking on his mobile phone.

Both casts are excellent, especially Mary Conlon as Belisa’s mother in the English version. The two sprites, who narrate some of the story, are delightfully played in both versions by Maya and Jada Kalundu.

I really enjoyed this production; it would help if you spoke Spanish but it certainly isn’t necessary. I would recommend reading the (very short) play before attending, and strongly recommend seeing it, especially if you are learning Spanish.

4 stars

Review by Sally Knipe

Written between 1922 and 1926 and premiered in 1933, Amor de Don Perlimplín con Belisa en su Jardín is a masterpiece of farce that ends in tragedy, mixing lyrical and grotesque moments onstage. In the play, Don Perlimplín is an elderly man who, proud of having remained a bachelor all his life, is convinced by his servant Marcolfa to marry his neighbour Belisa, a tender teenager offered unashamedly and almost by force by her mother. But tragedy explodes on the wedding night when, despite Perliplín’s confession of his love for Belisa, she falls for another man with whom she is having a passionate romance. Aware of the deception, Perlimplín will have to decide how to respond to this treachery.

In English and in Spanish on the same performance, with two casts and two different stagings. First half in Spanish with English surtitles.Second half in English.

En inglés y en español en la misma representación, con dos repartos y dos montajes diferentes. Primera parte en español con sobretítulos en inglés y la segunda parte en inglés.

Spanish Cast
Perlimplín Juan Carlos Talavera
Belisa Maggie García
Marcolfa Maite Jiménez
Belisa’s Mother Montserrat Roig
Duende 1 Maya Kalundu
Duende 2 Jada Kalundu

English Cast
Perlimplín Paul Rider
Belisa Alex Perez
Marcolfa Mary Conlon
Belisa’s Mother Montserrat Roig
Duende 1 Maya Kalundu
Duende 2 Jada Kalundu

Director Paula Paz
Translation Caridad Svich
Set and Costume Designer Alejandro Andújar
Music Composer and Sound Designer Lex Kosanke
Lighting Designer Sammy Emmins
Assistant Director and Stage Manager Lucia Gandara
Production Manager James Creighton-Goode
Photography Elena Molina

by Federico García Lorca

Artistic Director Jorge de Juan
Artistic Director Paula Paz
House Manager Puerto Baker
Production Manager James Creighton-Goode
Graphic Design Josele Mesa

Translation by Caridad Svich
Directed by Paula Paz

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