City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

EIF 2014: Patrias, Playhouse, Review


By Justine Blundell - Posted on 29 August 2014

Patrias dancers
5
Show details
Company: 
Paco Pena Flamenco Company
Running time: 
140mins
Production: 
Paco Pena (deviser), Jude kelly (artistic consultant), Fernando Romero (choreographer), Kathy Hinde (visual design), Tom Wickens (lighting design), Elena Pena (sound design), Carlos Sanchez (sound engineer), Linda Rowell, Elvira Pena, Danute Dainiene (costumes), Howie Bailey (visuals), Rebecca Wickens (stage management), MPM London (general management).
Performers: 
Paco Pena, Paco Arriaga, Rafael Montilla (guitarists), Jose Angel Carmona, Gema Jimenez (singers), Angel Munoz, Mayte Bajo, Oruco (dancers), Nacho Lopez, Oruco (percussion), Rio Muten Mariscal (narrator), Giulia Innocenti (English voice-over).

Patrias evokes the aesthetic spirit of Lorca’s duende, creating a stirring glimpse of the Spanish Civil War that blazes with Andalusian accents and attitude.

Lorca once wrote that, ‘In Spain, the dead are more alive than the dead of any other country in the world.’ This seductively reveals the passion for life that is the driving force of Spanish culture as, lead by emotion and bound together by a collective feeling, they gloriously throw themselves into life - heart first. The essential expression of flamenco is perhaps the greatest and most intensely felt articulation of this.

Bringing together Lorca’s poetry with music reclaimed form traditional Spanish folklore, Paco Peňa and his Flamenco Company created a performance full of power, passion and integrity. There were no capes or castanets, no garish colours or stiff frills – in fact, this performance was strictly no-frills. The expression of emotion flowed through the flamenco guitars, the dance, poetry and song - all executed to the highest possible standard. The simplicity of the production allowed the power and passion of the performance to stand out, authentic and unadorned.

The stage was bare, the performers wearing loose clothes of muted colours that spoke of an earthiness, of informality and a practical collectivity. An assortment of wooden, high-backed chairs arranged casually to one side, provided an empty space for the dancers to fill with movement. The singers, guitarists and narrator, grouped together on the assembled chairs, bestowed a visual reminder that this was an intimate community of people who shared a passion, a truth and a common humanity.

At key moments, original black and white footage from the time of the Spanish Civil War, of people marching or gathering in the streets, filled the background. Many of the murky and blurred figures had been crudely outlined in brilliant white, setting an irreverent tone that was both immediate and ominous. This was in stark contrast to the heat emanating from the band of performers who sat close together: singing and swaying; clapping complicated, syncopated beats; and stamping their espadrilled feet in perfect, sublime time with one another, as though gathered in the courtyard on a sun-drenched evening. Yet these images of the past belonged to them, were an indisputable part of their past, part of them, part of what held them together.

For Lorca, ‘duende’ was a shared physical and emotional response to a piece of art that connected the spectator to the performer. Patrias was a masterful exemplifier of this powerful correspondence and a worthy tribute to Lorca, who lived vividly and died tragically, murdered by Franco’s regime at the start of the war. Through Peňa’s remarkable artistry, Lorca’s legacy lives on.

Ran 27th and 28th August