Reviewed by David Walters
Created by the Chilian group Teatro Anónimo and written and directed by Trinidad González, ESPÍRITU, now playing at The Public’s Under the Radar Series through January 17, is a bit confusing in dancing the line between a film and a filmed theatrical event. I couldn’t help but think of Von Trier’s Dogville and the line that film danced on.
Through eight vignettes, all performed by three actors, taking place in the evening in a somewhere city, acted out on the empty stage of a large theatrical space, they express the void of daily life brought on by societal consumerism and the lack of meaning in everyday existence. Chipper material for sure, especially during this Covid time.
Espiritu, of course, means spirit and the short scenes all possess a spiritual quality and a spirituality of humanity:
- Three survivors brought together by fate to plot the capture of the monster that plagues all of us, put it in a bottle, and stuff a cork in to hold it.
- A woman being verbally abused at 4 AM as she walks through the spilled private light of an apartment window.
- A 15-year old boy bombasted by an older man as they happen to sit near one another.
- A man on a soapbox defending himself.
- A band playing a song of life longing.
- A couple at an impasse in their lives, one that has lost her shadow which in turn has caused her to lose her light. There is no light definition without its accompanying shadow.
- A woman describes in confusion her dream of confusion.
- The survivors return scat-singing in harmony. To lovely guitar music.
- A shirtless, knitted hat over the face urging devil shares the poison of abundance.
The saving grace for the 35-minute presentation was the question posited:
“How do you survive this vulgar era?”
The writing in ESPÍRITU is poetry and presented itself to me long before the question was posed.
This “play” is a living poem. Brought to life in order to shed light on a life that consumes us all.
I said at the beginning that this theatrical piece is a bit confusing, it could not be what it is without it being filmed and thus I would term it an online theatrical presentation.
I myself don’t mean to be confusing, but I’m still struggling to define what we are doing as we still stay far away from assembling, still creating this thing we love called theatre.
ESPIRITU runs January 6-17, 2021 (Running Time: 35 Minutes)
Streaming On-Demand at publictheater.org
By Teatro Anónimo ESPÍRITU (Chile)
Written and Directed by Trinidad González
Performed in Spanish with English subtitles