See: References To Salvador Dali Make Me Hot (review)

27 Jan

You may remember when I posted about my New Year’s resolutions, that seeing more bands live was one of them. Well, going to the theatre more is another resolution and I decided to get the ball rolling with Troupel‘s staging of References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot. Troupel is a London-based theatre company who produce immersive work with unique visual style – they explore the absurdity of the universe; creating images that resonate in a darkly comic way.

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The run has actually finished now, but let me say this: the next show Troupel do is going to be great. I mean – References was their premiere show as a theatre company, and it was effing awesome. Directors Kaia Michaela and Jennifer Collins (along with one of the stars of the show Andrew Haig) have worked tirelessly over the course of the past few months setting up Troupel. I’m pleased, and not at all surprised, to say it’s all been worth it.

References to Salvador Dali Makes Me Hot is sexy, passionate, intense and humorous – and of course, surreal. The play was staged at The Courtyard Theatre, Shoreditch –  a nice place, cosy bar, slightly offhand staff (luckily Kaia, Jenny and Andy were incredibly hospitable to make up for it!) and a warm (VERY WARM, toasty even) theatre space.

Jose Rivera‘s play is, funnily enough, inspired by the work of Salvador Dali. In the vastness of the unforgiving desert Gabriela struggles to separate her dreams from reality as she copes with the crippling loneliness and desperation of being an army wife. The play is separated into four acts. Act One sees a feline figure, sloping and writhing across the stage as a wild coyote tries to convince her to leave her life of domesticity and become feral and give in to his desire to sleep with her. The cat/coyote storyline mirrors the animal instincts and wild nature of the lead characters Gabriela and her husband Benito, and they return at the end of the play – after the cat and coyote realise they can no longer be together as the coyote is forever changed – much like Gabriela no longer recognises the man she fell in love with.

After the cat and coyote slope off into the distance in the first act, the moon comes into play. The moon is a seductive character (who is pretty pissed that Shakespeare not only got his gender wrong, but also called him inconstant. It didn’t go down well) whom Gabriela is drawn to her in her fantasies. The moon represents everything that first drew her to her husband (he used to notice the moon, he no longer looks up), but also, represents everything her husband is not (cultures, seductive, creative).

When Benito returns from war it transpires that he’s a changed man – changed from the man Gabriella fell in love with as a teenager. She is now alone for the best part of the year, in the desert, while he is stationed with the army – and his army training has turned him from a man who used to look for the moon in the sky to a man who looks for bombs dropping from above instead.

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ANYWAY. I’ve rambled about the storyline enough. I don’t want to ruin it for you folks – let me just say it’s a surreal, intense experience and the directors have ensured that the comic timing is totally on point and the staging, lighting and sound creates an incredible atmosphere which completely does the script justice. Gabriela is played by Paula Berenguer – the stand out star of the show. Her passion and intensity is constant throughout – she perfectly conveys how sexy, passionate, yet fallible, Gabriela is when Benito is around. Also, I am easily impressed when it comes to how well actors remember a CRAZY amount of lines – not once did Paula slip up.

I was actually lucky enough to interview Kaia Michaela and Jennifer Collins before the show started. I asked Kaia what drew Troupel to the play. She said “At the heart of this play lies a woman struggling internally with a difficult decision – one that many people can relate to. Under normal circumstances we don’t see what goes through people’s minds, yet, in this play, Rivera takes us straight to Gabriela’s subconscious”. I was also quizzed Jenny on what her favourite quote from the play is (you know what a sucker I am for a good quote guys, c’mon). Jenny loves “But what if I’m still dreaming? What if none of us wake up? What if we go on like this: dreaming and sleeping, until we’re like boxes-within-boxes and there’s no way out?”

All in all, the play was an exceptional premiere for Troupel – to the point where the show was a complete sell out the final few nights. Check out their Twitter feed and their Facebook page to ensure you keep up to date with upcoming productions!

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