‘Don Perlimplín’s love with Belisa in his garden’ has been performed in London since 1945, but never in such a bold version: performed first in Spanish and then in English, with two different castings and with a second version of the celebrated ‘erotic hallelujah’ by Garcia Lorca that breaks all the molds, to the point where the young, sensual and unfaithful wife of the old protagonist is embodied in a man.
“It’s a novel idea and I think nothing like it has ever been done with this play,” warns the director and co-founder of the Cevantes Theater Paula Paz. “It was a risky bet, but in line with what we have always done in this theater, alternating the two languages. The audience is surprised and favorably impacted. And the reviews have been great.”
“Lorca’s early masterpiece revived in dazzling style” (Gary Naylor on Broadwayworld.com). “I have really enjoyed this production; speaking Spanish will help, but it is certainly not necessary” (Sally Knipe at LondonTheatre1.com). “The two casts intermingle while encouraging us not only to examine Lorca’s text, and to question our own assumptions and perspectives, but to consider the very nature of the work” (Claire Seymour at Britishtheatreguide.com).
“For Lorca, let us not forget, theater is poetry that rises from the book and becomes human,” he recalls at the end of the performance. Nuria Capdevila-Argüellesprofessor of Hispanic and Gender Studies at the University of Exeter, who praises the projection over time of the English version (translated by Charity Svich) and the audacity to turn Belinda into a man (perhaps following the subtle designs of Lorca himself).
Maria Bastianes, professor at the University of Leeds and expert on Spanish theater in the 20th century, remembers how the play premiered in the United Kingdom in 1945, nine years after Lorca’s death. She directed it Joan Littlewoodconsidered the ‘mother of modern theater’, who also had to deal with censorship and defend the original audacity of the Granada native: “The first impact of any work of art is to be annoying and even destructive: we have to risk being uncomfortable if “We don’t want our culture to atrophy.”