by Dale Reynolds
It was only in town for three performances, but this remarkable theatre piece at the Los Angeles Theatre Center (LATC) came in at 75 minutes, no intermission needed, and totally without words. Developed in Spain by Kulunka Teatro, in the Northern Spanish Basque country, it is a grand experiment in stage language, rather than spoken language. Three actors play a dozen or so characters, with none of the action in traditional “mime,” but expressed in body language and with significant masks.
The story is simple in the telling and profound in its implications. We meet Andre and Dorine at the beginnings of the ravages of age: both would appear to be in their late 70s, or so, and as happens with long marriages, they find ways of bedeviling each other: she with her cello, he with his tippy-tappy typewriter, on which he composes his books. It’s amusing to watch their “bickering,” until she begins to falter from the onset of a severe senility: she dresses oddly, finally unable to recognize old dressing patterns; can’t cope with day-to-day events. They have a grown son and when he comes to visit, they practically pull him apart trying to gain his sole attention. Dorine continues her decline, until finally she is put to rest along with her beloved cello and Andre goes home to live alone, until finally he leaves the stage.
The three actors are the main movers of the story. But they’ve been helped enormously by the expressive masks (designed and built by Garbiñe Insausti), which allow the actors to concentrate on body language, at which all three actors are extremely agile.
While the play is short and its points are vividly made, it is still a style that begins to sag mid-way through the show. And yet, many touching points are made about love – emotional, sexual… parental – that perks it right back up again.
Jose Dault, Garbiñe Insausti, and Edu Carcamo, the three actors, are all members of the Kulunka company. They helped write the piece, along with director Inaki Rikarte and Rolando San Martin.
It’s a lovely and emotional evening and has all too short a run here in Los Angeles, but will continue its tour to other parts of the country before heading off to Asia. Every theatre professional should see it for the kinds of inter-cultural influences we should have on each other. You won’t regret it.
LATC is located on 514 S. Spring Street, Downtown Los Angeles, CA 90013. To check on their current productions, visit: http://www.thelatc.org.
Senior Arts Critic