City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

The Magic Cave of Salamanca, Quaker Meeting House, Review

By Kenneth Scott - Posted on 26 August 2016

Show details
Off World Productions
Running time: 
(not available)
(not available)

A group of con-artists, pimps, prostitutes and cuckolds come blinking into the light after 400 years.

These comedic characters were created by Miguel de Cervantes in a number of Interludes, designed to be performed between the acts of longer works. They provide a glimpse at the underside of 17th Century Spain. In 1615 he claimed that “he put them away in a chest and condemned them to eternal silence”; only to later take them and some others out again.

Not content with bringing them back as separate works, this production gives them a modern mash-up. And throws in some Shakespeare for good measure. The two writers are of course often compared, may even have met and died on the same date.

Based on mediaeval legend The Cave of Salamanca is a story of a bored housewife who gets up to mischief while her husband is away. It all goes horrible wrong when he comes back early, but a passing student plays some devilish tricks to save the day. There is more sexual trickery when a couple of prostitutes are fooled by a fake prince and an even more fake gold chain. The fraud is of the Emperor’s New Clothes variety when magical, invisible puppets, ranging from mice to Samson and a raging bull “show” up. All this is bookended by the tale of a widowed pimp selecting a new partner.

This is all given a thoroughly modernist take both in appearance and meta-theatrical style (the latter being something that persists in Cervantes’ plays). There is much bawdy sexual innuendo and a fair number of puns along the way.

With the light slapstick, almost pantomimic treatment the piece should feel accessible but is hindered by the esoteric way in which the tales have been deconstructed and reconstructed. It also overlooks any deeper meaning.

Up to this point it’s possible to give the benefit of the doubt to script, styling and directorial decisions, but the real problem lies with it not being done well enough. With poor production values and some faltering, wooden acting it’s still not ready to be given voice.

Show Times: 22 – 27 August 2016 at 8.30pm.

Tickets: £6 (£5) (£16 family).