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Luces de Bohemia Ram6n del Valle-Incian Directed by Lluis Pascual Teatro Maria Guerrero (Madrid) Diaiogo secreto Antonio Buero-Vallejo Directed by Gustavo Perez Puig Teatro Infanta Isabel (Madrid) Marion Peter Holt While American audiences were being inundated with new stage and film treatments of the cliche-encrusted Sapin of Bizet's Carmen-some of them admittedly ingenious-Lluis Pascual's impressive staging of Valle-Inclan's Luces de Bohemia [Bohemian Lights], jointly produced by the Centro Dramatico Nacional and the Th6atre de l'Europe, was being seen in a number of European cities following its opening in Paris last spring. Its Madrid premiere had been expected in the 1983-84 season but was delayed until October by the extended run of the highly successful revival of Jardiel Poncela's Elotsa est9 debajo de un almendro at the CDN's main theatre. The performance history of Luces is all too brief. It was never staged in Valle's lifetime; Jean Vilar's French production was seen in Paris in 1963; the play was finally presented in Madrid in 1971 after the Franco Ministry of Culture withdrew its objections to several hundred words of dialogue (all from the politicized scenes that Valle added in 1924 to his original version) that had been considered provocative. Given the rarity of stagings of Luces (or any Valle play), a new production becomes an event before it is unveiled. However, Pascual's treatment is no mere obligatory nod, as head of Spain's National Theatre, to his country's neglected theatrical visionary; it is an utterly convincing, if decidedly conceptaul and personal, realization of the work that literally defines (in the words of the dying Max Estrella in the famous Scene 12) and illustrates the dramatic form that Valle labeled the esperpento. Rightly or wrongly, Luces has been called cinematic, and there are strong suggestions of the German expressionistic films of the 1920s in this staging . Actions are sometimes played out in silhouette against a white background, and the lighting turns the actors' faces into masks or obliterates their features, creating the effect of a shadow play. For the frequent scene changes required for the blind poet's movements from one locale to the next in his final hours, Fabia Puigserver has designed layers of interacting scrims that rise and fall silently and fluidly, with a disorienting effect not necessarily true to Valle's intent but nonetheless compelling as a 66 0 C LUCES DE BOHEMIA visual complement to the dramatic action. After Max's death, the scrims totally disappear to reveal the full expanse of the stage as the family and onlookers hover over the coffin. At the heart of the production are the splendid performances of Jose Marra Rodero as Max and Carlos Lucena as Don Latino, both of whom set a standard by which future interpretations will be measured. Pascual has obviously instructed his supporting actors to exaggerate both gesture and speech to achieve grotesqueness or puppet-like movements. Occasionally the result is overplaying that becomes an exercise in self-indulgence, defeating the purpose that is clearly intended. Lluis Pascual's Luces de Bohemia will probably not strike anyone familiar with Valle's highly descriptive and evocative stage directions as definitive, but it is nevertheless a strong affirmation of the talent of one of Europe's rising your directors and illustrative of the high production standards that prevail at the Marra Guerrero. It has also made accessible-as the fiftieth anniversary of Valle-Inclan's death (and Lorca's) approaches-to the widest audience ever one of the masterworks of twentieth century drama. The only new Spanish play of substance on view in Madrid in a fall season dominated by American and British imports was Buero-Vallejo's Dislogo secreto [Secret Dialogue], presented in a commercial house but with a modest subsidy from the Ministry of Culture to underwrite its staging. 67 Cu DIALOGO SECRETO The metaphorical use of an individual struggle against a physical limitation to Illustrate a larger moral or political struggle is fundamental to a number of Buero's plays, and in Diglogo secreto he focuses on the predicament of a daltonic, or colorblind, art critic, who must finally...


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