Tuesday, 5 August 2014

A Theatrical Review.

Manuelita- Edinburgh, Cowgate, Underbelly-Bellydancer @ 12.40 pm until 24th August.

What do you go to the Theatre expecting?

For me the answer to that question is; An engaging story, characters I can empathise with and some I can hate, laughter, tears and if I'm lucky an education about something I know very little or nothing about.  

You get all this and much more from Manuelita.  From the moment this play starts with a small, frail old lady, who is upset at the contents of a history book, until it ends, an unbelievably quick sixty minutes later, there is barely time to catch your breath.  Warning! You may well think the play hasn't ended.  I sat there wanting more.

Tamsin Clarke, who also wrote the play, is fiery, passionate, at times quite frightening in her portrayal of Manuela Saenz, the lover, confidante and right hand woman of the Liberator of South America, Simon Bolivar.  Manuelita is a funny, sexy, rude, bawdy and compassionate woman, and Tamsin makes her utterly believable.

This is a feminist play with a difference.  It's not a feminist play.  It is a perfect example of how great women are all too often sidelined by history and Manuelita is not only great she is a flawed character, which makes her all the more appealing.  Her hatred of any kind of authority leads her towards social ostracism and she just doesn't care. She is vain, if vanity is the recognition of your own beauty, obsessive and loyal to the point of stupidity to a man who really doesn't deserve her.

The play is beautifully accompanied by Camilo Menjura, who plays guitar and when they play/sing a Latin American lullaby towards the end, Tamsin Clarke's voice is let loose, in a wonderfully tender way, on a by now totally entranced audience.

How much is true and how much the product of a gloriously fertile imagination is irrelevant.  This play is totally captivating and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who is able to go to see it.

*****! ...Out Of Five! 

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