Reviewed – 29th January 2019
“A strong script keeps ‘Cuzco’ interesting, but the actors fail to live up to the words”
It has apparently been seven years since Theatre503 have programmed a piece of theatre in translation, and ‘Cuzco’, a poignant and symbolic play by Valencian playwright Víctor Sánchez Rodríguez, proves an intriguing way to end this hiatus.
Beginning in the Peruvian city of Cuzco, Dilek Rose and Gareth Kieran Jones play an unnamed couple on holiday, passing through Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes on their way to Machu Pichu. Told through scenes in various hotel bedrooms, the couple’s journey of self-discovery quickly turns self-destructive, and, in the end, the fate of their relationship hangs in the balance.
William Gregory’s elegant translation maintains the Spanish background of the characters, allowing the tensions between tourism and a fraught colonial history to come front and centre. As the woman, Dilek Rose wanders the cities’ streets getting into fights with tourists, but bringing an Andean boy to bathe in their hotel room is the final straw for her partner. The woman’s arch frustrated to fulfilled is well-realised and convincingly played by Rose, whereas Jones, increasingly exasperated as the man, seems monochromatic and flat. They never quite gel as a couple, meaning the slow death of their relationship feels a dull inevitability.
Kate O’Connor directs, and in conjunction with Jai Morjaria’s effective lighting, creates some lovely stage imagery, particularly in the woman’s final few scenes bathing and partying. Although the use of monologue in the script offers some eloquent prose for each actor to chew on, the decision to play these stories facing out pulls focus to the audience rather than the couple, and means the impact of the words often fails to land.
A strong script keeps ‘Cuzco’ interesting, but the actors fail to live up to the words, and considering how important chemistry is in two-handers like this, it’s a real shame. Born from the work of the Out of the Wings Collective, Gregory’s translation expertly showcases the vitality of theatre translation, and we can only hope for more theatres to programme work like this.
Reviewed by Joseph Prestwich
Photography by Holly Lucas
Theatre503 until 16th February
Previously reviewed at this venue: