Spanish guitar music welcomes the spectators of this family drama set in a lush Mediterranean landscape with flowers and palm trees, the deep blue sea on a far horizon. In mid-February we find ourselves in the little town of Salobrena near Granada. Although the studio of Spanish painter Emiliano (Joseph Rye) is bathed in sunshine, he seems to be in a gloomy mood. No wonder. He is about to paint a picture of the murder of Federico Garcia Lorca, his favourite poet who was shot by a Nationalist firing squad in early 1936 during the Spanish Civil War. Lorca, the famous author of plays such as “Yerma” and “The House of Bernada Alba”, died at the young age of 38. Sketches of Lorca’s execution cover the walls of the studio and make the audience shiver. Lorca has become Emiliano’s alter ego to whom he talks and asks for advice while working on his painting. It goes without saying that Lorca is only visible and audible to Emiliano. Lorca becomes more and more part of the family and serves as counsellor to the painter, a discreet witness whom he can trust not to reveal his former life in the United States.
The suicide of his American wife is Emiliano’s well kept secret. When his spouse found out about his bisexuality, she took her life, leaving him alone with his young daughter Marina. Emiliano was so shocked by his wife’s death that he fled to Spain where he started a completely new life in a ménage à trois with Paquita, a beautiful Spanish woman, and Karim, a young Moroccan who shares the bed with Emiliano. Paquita, the good-natured woman, married Karim in order to enable him to stay legally in the country. She plans to divorce him when he has been given his citizen papers by the Spanish authorities. After that step she hopes to marry Emiliano whom she loves. For the time being the three of them live happily together until Marina announces her arrival in Spain. Everything is fine until the very moment when Marina, who has fallen in love with Karim, finds out that the young Maghrebinan is her father’s lover. She is out of her mind and accuses Emiliano of having killed her mother. The whole family is on the edge of their nerves. The only two people who keep their calm are – of course – the invisible Lorca and cheerful Paquita who tries to handle the heated situation in a most charming manner. However, she does not succeed. Emiliano who does not accept the relationship between Karim and his daughter wants the young man out of his house and view immediately. Karim is enraged. He tears Emiliano’s sketches and paintings from the walls and hurls them all over the place. Then he disappears with a rifle in his hand. Two gunshots ring out. Fortunately he misses the painter who reappears unhurt in the house. Lorca is shocked. The shots remind him of his execution by Franco’s soldiers over sixty years ago. “Am I dead?” asks the painter. “No, the boy missed,” Lorca replies. The end of the plot will not be revealed here. Please find out yourselves, dear spectators, whether or not the family, including Karim, is reconciled after all this trouble.
The American press is full of praise for Pulitzer Prize Winner Nilo Cruz and his oeuvre. One critic wrote: “Cruz is a writer of ideas, who fills the stage with a kind of lush dramatic literature, unifying character with thought and action in time and space.” After having seen a performance of “The Beauty of the Father”, another New York critic wrote: “Richly poetic language adds to Cruz’ family drama.”
The audience thanked the actors and director Clifford Dean for this performance with a standing ovation. Dean is always in search of outstanding plays that are completely unknown to German theatre goers. So is Nilo Cruz, the young playwright whose plays deserve to become part of the repertoire of German stages. The passionate performance of five actors made the evening a great success. Holly Smith, whom the “aficionaos” of the English Theatre have already seen in a couple of dramas and comedies, played the role of her life as Paquita, the joyful singing and dancing embodiment of a Mediterranean female. Just captivating!
Photos: Stefan Kock
Final performance of “The Beauty of the Father” on April 13, 2019
Tickets under phone number 040 – 227 80 89, online booking under www.englishtheatre.de
Next premiere: “Moonlight and Magnolias”, a comedy by Ron Hutchinson, on April 25, 2019