Verde, Agua y Luna
Calder Bookshop & Theatre
Reviewed – 3rd May 2019
“a condensed taste of his profoundly sincere and expressive creativity”
With both Spanish and non-Spanish speakers in mind, ‘Verde, Agua y Luna’ (Green, Water and Moon) is an immersion in the imagery and emotions of Federico García Lorca. Born in Granada in 1898 and executed by Nationalist forces in 1936, it was as a pianist that he found his first artistic outlet. Taking to writing in his late teens, he revealed an intensity and passion in poetry and plays which drew in elements from the rawness and purity of nature, being steeped in his traditional musical heritage and showing an openness to avant-garde influences. Rather than adopt the more emblematic characteristics of ‘cante jondo’ (a primitive Flamenco song style) or Andalusian culture, often found in his works, this piece distils the essence of three key words which represent Lorca’s recurring themes of love, death, desire, sexuality and repression of freedom. Even though he was lucky enough to be creating alongside compatriots such as film-maker Luis Buñuel, artist Salvador Dalí and composer Manuel de Falla, the suppression of his homosexuality and liberal thinking produced deep-rooted anguish, apparent in the melancholy and tragedy of his writing.
Luis Gayol and Maria Estévez-Serrano perform their own blend of Lorca’s texts which illustrate the motifs as spirits invading his thoughts in the hours before his death. Simultaneously, a stylish projection by Enrique Muñoz Jiménez translates the intrinsic parts of this narrative, showing, towards the end, examples of Lorca’s own drawings. There is resourceful use of the small space and simple but effective details in the versatility of the costumes (Jenny Hobson). For someone who doesn’t understand the language, it has an impressionistic feel, a musical immediacy in the sound and rhythm and interesting visual ideas, particularly from some very evocative lighting (Enrique Muñoz Jiménez), but it lacks depth. The programme notes help to make sense of the concept but cannot enhance the drama. Only in ‘Agua’, in a poignant performance from Maria Estévez-Serrano, do we appreciate the nuances of her thirst for life through Lorca’s portrayal of women stifled by their constrained lives. It is a more engaging and moving enactment for those who speak Spanish, though Luis Gayol’s accent and demeanour make for an unusual image of the poet.
The tiny theatre hidden, in Narnia-esque fashion, behind a curtain at the back of the Calder Bookshop is part of the evening’s discovery. ‘Verde, Agua y Luna’ is an enriching but different experience for everyone, depending on their familiarity with Spanish, its culture, its history and Lorca’s literature. If somewhat academic in approach, it is a condensed taste of his profoundly sincere and expressive creativity.
Reviewed by Joanna Hetherington
Verde, Agua y Luna
Calder Bookshop and Theatre until 18th May
Previously reviewed at this venue: