Gala Hispanic Theatre begins its 38th season by paying homage to the Spanish Golden Age. The spirit of a 17th century corralas found its way to 14th Street with the world debut of Cabaret Barroco, Interludes of Spain’s Golden Age.
The theme of the show is love, and elaborates on the ridiculous things people do to find and keep love. The show consisted of short scenes from several different playwrights strung together by a few songs about how powerful love can be.
An ensemble of eight high-energy actors draws you into this world where love is the only thing that could ever matter. There are some familiar faces from other GALA productions in the ensemble including the always hilarious Carlos Castillo and Natalia Miranda-Guzmán. Castillo always seems to be out for the joke and carried the physical comedy of the show in many of his scenes. However, Miranda-Guzmán’s grace and command of comedic timing pushed all of the scenes over the edge, and she received many laughs from the audience.
Spanish Golden Age calls for some very grand acting to pull you into the world and the rest of the ensemble is just as engaging, including Gonzalo Bouza, Carmen Cabrera, Menchu Esteban, Chani Martin, Jimmy Navarro and Luz Nicolás.
The song interludes were playful warning about how deep you can fall in love and how to survive. The women and the men each took their turn singing about the centuries old struggle of which is the fairer sex in “¡Vivan las damas!” and “¡Vivan los hombres!” The finale song of the show reminds the audience that “love stabs you on the back but doesn’t make you bleed out.”
Who wouldn’t want to experience love that takes your breath away, like being stabbed in the back?
The final scene in the cabaret, “El Toreador” by Pedro Calderón de la Barca, is the story of a timid young man (Martin) who wants to win the heart of one of the prettiest girls in town (Miranda-Guzmán). However, in his efforts to do so he needs to conquer the bull (Bouza) in a fight for her love and honor. The physicality of all of the actors in the scene are spot on. The bull is a clever wheel barrel-esque abstract structure of the animal, that races around the stage, while the frightened man cowardly fights for his life and for his soon to be bride. It was simply captivating and ended the night on such a high note. All of the scenes were so engaging that it was impossible not to have a good laugh at all of those crazy little things people do for love.
The set of the show was also incredibly engaging. At first glance it seemed pretty simple, which is understandable since there are so many different little scenes. Yet when the show really got started the set began to move and had all these different little doorways, platforms, and stairs that could be adjusted to take this once blank canvas into a different location for each scene. Giorgos Tsappas’ scenic design is so very versatile and is such a great tool for the actors to create all of the different worlds of the scene.
José Luis Arellano García came all the way from Spain to direct this production. He brought a great deal of energy and passion to share with the ensemble and it is quite visible on that stage.
Running Time: Two and a half hours, with one 15-minute intermission.
Cabaret Barroco plays through October 6, 2013 at GALA Hispanic Theatre – 3333 14th Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For reservations, call the box office at (202) 234-7174. Tickets may also be purchased at the door and online.