Els Joglars, Yo Tengo Un Tio En America

Review in Issue 5-1 | Spring 1993

This production richly layers the elements to deal with its unusual subject matter – the Spanish ‘Conquest of the Americas’ as seen through the eyes of a group of anarchic psychiatric patients, playing the role of an indigenous American tribe at the time of the invasion. The doctors and nurses become the conquistadors, wielding syringes and offering pills as pacifying gifts.

The difference between the shambling, chaotic tribe of patients and the all-powerful conquistadors is brilliantly highlighted by the latter being flamenco dancers. Their arrogant strutting and aggressive heel clicking at first bemuses and finally entices the patients to join in the dance. The piece reaches a show-stopping climax with both conquerors and conquered joining in a stunning set piece of virtuosic flamenco dance.

Although text is used throughout (to apparently humorous ends, judging by the laughter of the Spanish speakers in the audience) the drama is portrayed as much through the physical characterisation and comic slapstick play between performers and the visual effects. The set, a forest of hanging ropes, is employed with ingenious creativity and a line of impact, the direction revealing a thought provoking treatment of the complex theme.

From the issue 5-1 collection of reviews, written by Jackie Adkins, Sarah Dawson, Desmond Jones, Jonathan Megaw, Shani Solomons, Brendan Stapleton and Paul Vates.

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