SAINT BLANCA PORTILLO RISES UP TO THE HEAVENS
Tomaz Pandur´s HAMLET is a great show, almost operatic, which should tour around the whole world. Although the company of actors is slightly uneven and some scenes are too self-centred, the generosity, the talent and the hard-work shine above all the rest. Four hours which are never too heavy, enough material to write several reviews. It is huge and well-deserved success; it is wonderful to see the Sold Out sign every evening at the box office of El Matadero theatre in Madrid. The audience is trapped, seduced, enthusiast, with very little exceptions. In the centre of all this, always high above, up in heaven itself, the great Blanca Portillo, delivers one of the best all-rounded interpretations of the Great Dane I have ever seen. But first, please allow me to show you the space, designed by Numen, and beware of the puddles. Because there are puddles everywhere: we are in Denmark, lower (Pays Bas) than ever, and the court of Elsinor is an island about to drown in a sea of mirrors, with catwalks like isthmuses and hanging from above there are huge curtains (Theatre, Theatre!) which move like waves creating islands, and opening secret chambers of the mind in Lynch’s style: astonishing atmosphere, dreamt and materialized with masterly hands. The sound design, by Silence is also very impressive: mercurial drops, reverbs, stormy winds and a beautiful and romantic score. All in all, it has great lyrical strength and rapture.
Pandur controls and resolves wonderfully those scenes in which the performers run the risk of falling short of breath and losing the rhythm of the text: like in Portillo´s opening monologue, hitting a boxing bag with all her fury, or like when Claudius and Laertes plan their murderous plot during a very physical fight. More outstanding ideas: the beautiful encounter with the Ghost in a bar which is as frightening as the one in Stanley Kubrick´s “The Shining”. Asier Etxeandia is a persuasive and gentle ghost, feeding Hamlet spoonful by spoonful, always by his side, listening and guiding him. During the interval, when the Mousetrap becomes a dream-like Berlin cabaret, Etxeandia sings in a Tom Waits style and the courtesans dance in a style between Weil and Fosse. And let’s talk about Blanca Portillo. It is very difficult to choose a single great moment because she is sublime throughout the whole show. You will hear the “To Be Or No To Be” monologue, wonderfully said and felt, with utmost clarity and depth, and literally naked: never before did a full nude make so much sense, ending in a beautiful image of Narcissus contemplating his reflection in the water. There is no better way of showing the oscillations of Hamlet’s heart and mind: the vindictive fury, the fall after Polonius´ death, the hallucinated understanding of the Ghost’s omnipresence. Blanca Portillo is an athlete of the feelings and an athlete generally: getting ready for this role must have felt like training for a marathon race, long sword fight sessions included. As I said before: fly to the theatre to applaud her, because her Hamlet is already making history. ( Marcos Ordonez, EL PAIS )
TOMAZ PANDUR, YES
Because never before did Shakespeare´s text feel so close, so mine, so contemporary. Because Pandur bets on the intelligence, on his thoughts, mercilessly shaking the world of reason, estimulating it, no matter the gender or the age of the transmitting body. Because this transmitting body manages to deliver the text beyond its own reality, almost banal. So immense is the power of what is told. For his courage, deeply considered and developed, expressed as the need to extract what is relevant to us now, to stop and listen again to what we really are.
And we are HAMLET, naked, reciting the most important monologue in the history of theatre, with the only support of an audience willing to stay with him. And he stays. Completely still. And we are Hamlet, fighting, because the others´ inability to understand one´s own life brings us face to face with whoever, like us, understands not and fights to survive the impotence of ever finding any answers. Without any help or alibi to protect you from the explanations. Because the beauty of the mise en scene is such that it may cause unrest in those unable to brush off their own prejudices and intensely enjoy the talent, like one enjoys a last chance. An obscene beauty, which screams out, consciously provoking from the bodies, from the damp, from the unbound desires tangled-up in violent obsessions, from the rage, from the Queen´s decadence, claustrophobic and slow. And because the androginy offered by David Delfin is sincerely modern. Not just a gimmick. And he is right. And dances in kubrickian style to the rhythm of the drums. And because I think the idea of doubling Rosencrantz and Guildernstern, those self-indulgent spoilt kids with an insatiable and frivolous thirst for evil who play, mock and bother others, is absolutely terrific. And because equally terrific is the capacity of a great, powerful actress, entirely dedicated to achieve, in body and soul, what the creator asks from her: Blanca Portillo is that capable woman. And she always finishes with a smile, which makes seem easy a process that can be both exhausting and kafkianesque. And because this is Hugo Silva´s best work to date, turned into a compulsive, driven and immoral King Claudius. Or because Asier Etxeandia is only one step away from being supernatural, not for playing a ghost, but because of his charisma, and his gift to enthrall his listeners, his observers. He is a complete actor, one of the best of his generation, if not the best. Thank you all. For taking the risk. For all the effort. For so much talent. ( CAYETANA GUILLEN CUERVO, El Mundo, Spain, 26. 3. 2009 )