A Classy Perro del Hortelano On Wheels
Perhaps my most unusual theater-going experience at Almagro did not involve a theater at all, or a corral, church, or other historical building. Instead, I sat in the back seat of a fancy Mercedes with just two other spectators, flagrantly eavesdropping on the conversation of the Countess Diana and her secretary/chauffeur Teodoro in the front seat. (Those of us lucky enough to have experienced Yuval Sharon’s mobile Hopscotch  in Los Angeles might have recognized the pleasure of the miniaturized, almost impossibly intimate theatrical experience in a moving vehicle.) Ignacio García, who also directs the Festival, pared Lope’s text down to its basic, flirtatious exchanges for this version, and reduced the characters to the central pair, as though to acknowledge that everyone else becomes collateral damage. Director José Vicente Gómez kept things moving at a breathless pace, as Teodoro drove all over town. (Mercedes Benz was only too happy to sponsor the escapade, of course.) Over the course of the 25-minute ride, the back-seat audience was hardly ignored: I was even asked to take down a sonnet that Teodoro composed while driving. Diana offered her hand to be kissed, turning the full force of her charm on the unsuspecting passengers, and perfected an entire semiotics of door-slams as she repeatedly got out of the car in a huff. Although admittedly problematic in privatizing the experience of theater, the performance was wildly enjoyable, not least because it offered one of the few cool dramatic spaces in town. García shared with me his excitement at the potential of such movable performances as a teaser of sorts to promote the festival—he hopes to expand this kind of offering next year.
Photos by Mariano Cieza