Cuzco at Theatre 503 review ***

Cuzco

Theatre 503, 13th February 2019

Wednesday afternoon. Quite nice weather as I recall. Near the end of the run. No great surprise that Theatre 503, (above the Latchmere in Battersea), was home to just a few, presumably, lost souls including your intrepid correspondent. Hopefully a few more punters pitched up for the more sociable slots as this play, about a couple “finding themselves” on the Inca trail, whilst not overwhelming at the time, has actually, and unexpectedly, lodged in my memory.

It is written by Víctor Sánchez Rodríguez, a young playwright with quite a reputation in his native Spain, and here translated by William Gregory. The nameless couple, played here with fearless commitment by Dilek Rose and Gareth Jones, are holed up in a hotel room in Cuzco, the historic capital of the Inca Empire, destroyed by the Conquistadors. She is feeling a bit peeky. He is frustrated that he has to go sightseeing on his own. Their relationship is plainly a bit rocky but as She, who is Spanish and riddled with post colonial guilt, rejects the tourist trappings to get “in touch” with the locals, and He contemplates a threesome with a vacuous rich US couple, things start to spiral out of control. She ends up rejecting her life in Europe to “come home” to a world replete with Inca symbolism. He cannot “follow” her and gets increasingly paranoid.

As quotidian dialogue gives way to philosophical monologue the play does go a bit kooky, but its themes still come across clearly and, briskly directed across its 70 minutes by Kate O’Connor, it doesn’t hang about. It did sometimes feel that the writer (and probably the translator) were straining a bit too hard for effect over content, and the simple set of Stephanie Williams, dictated by necessity, constrained the imagination. Mind you Max Pappenheim’s sound design did it best to open up the vistas, geographical and psychological.

Holidays eh. Always bring out the worst in people.

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