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Folk and Blues
Hoy es Fiesta
by Antonio Buero Vallejo
Adapted from the novel by Fraser Macdonald
The Mitre Theatre, Croydon.  April 2009
Directed by Fraser Macdonald and Alan Merricks

Please use THIS LINK to view the Photographs

Hoy Es Fiesta awarded 4 stars.

Written by Antonio Buero Vallejo -acknowledged as the Spanish equivalent of English playwrights Harold Pinter and his ilk - the play was translated by Mitre's Fraser Macdonald, who also made his directing debut with the piece.

He chose to do a literal translation of the play, first produced in 1956, which deals with everyday lives and problems of the poorer folk living in a block of flats in Madrid. This made the speech rather stilted and over-scripted which was fine as a representation of then but created characters which would have been made more realistic had colloquial language of today been used.

 

Although following a variety of twists and turns, the play, particularly Act I, was very drawn out and far too wordy.

 

This said, the cast had worked hard to bring their characters to life and succeeded well. Ann Bowden (in a rather unsuitable wig) as Doña Nieves told fortunes through the cards, constantly berating her maid Remedios, a rebellious Mary Holton, for her lack of work ethics. Two unruly young men cheeked their elders with James Backway and Adam Isles ideal in the parts. Joe Pepper made young, studious Fidel rather weak and watery and of no support to the troubled Daniela, so well characterised by Saskia Jiggens. As her mother, Doña Balbina, Julia Ascot's pretence at upper classiness, complete with posh accent, contrasted well with her neighbours, in both speech and aspirations. This contrast was nowhere more obvious than with Tanya Smith's Señora Tomasa – a real tour de force in the production as she fought for rights alongside Kelly Bennett as Señora Manola – another good study.

 

As the wise elder Silvario, Tony Rapps brought calm and perception to his neighbours' troubles, notwithstanding coping with his failing deaf wife Pilar, astutely played by Marion Barker. Andy Holton made as much as he could of the part of next door's Elias and Morven Rae was aptly belligerent as Nati the Caretaker.

 

The set, whose design was taken from the author's original drawing, was quite superb.

 

 

Theo Spring.    Croydon Advertiser.    4 stars