The meaning of life – of love, lust, art and the torn and bleeding heart of Civil War Spain – were ripped out and laid bare last night in this flamenco studded bull roar of a drama at the tiny Tara Theatre, Earlsfield, South London.
Sibylle Bernardin as surrealist photographer Dora Maar is muse, lover and – here exalted, there humiliated, always mesmerising – model to Richard Waring as the great Pablo Picasso: “ego big as a barn”, horns dipped in gore to paint the air of murdered Guernica. Both give it their all as Dora – passionate, dazzlingly intelligent and formidably human – reflects, with piercing wit and pathos against a backdrop of her own exposures to the world, on life scorched in a greater sun: Icarus to the inferno of Waring’s splendid Picasso.
As if this weren’t feast enough, the onstage trio, Amor Flamenco, take this play – penned by Caribbean writer Grace Nichols and directed by Mark Hewitt – to another level. Julio Lopez Fuentes (voice) and José León (guitar) in full and ever present view at back of stage are one thing. But if not for top gun performances by Bernardin and Waring, the entire show might have been looted lock, stock and barrel by two dances of protracted brilliance by Ana Dueñas: every move, scowl, staccato strut and steely grimace etching itself seamlessly into the wider dramas of hubristic vitality and love’s despair in a nation on the eve of greater suffering yet.
Last performance: Friday, October 19. Book at https://www.tara-arts.com/calendar/19-10-2018