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Not…?Ships of the Spanish, Matadero, Madrid

In 1947, the French Raymond Queneau published a fascinating book entitled ‘Exercices de style’ (‘Exercices de style’), in which he started from an initial story – actually, an anecdote: it does not even reach the category of history – and counted it 99 times; They are variations inspired by a piece of music: ‘The Art of the Fugue’, by Johann Sebastian Bach. The Asturian director Jesús Cracio came to him thanks to the journalist Rosana Torres, who challenged him to bring this text to the stage. He did it more than thirty years ago and now the director of the Spanish Theater, Natalia Menéndez -who was part of the cast of that premiere-, has commissioned a new assembly.

An extravagantly dressed man in a crowded bus, a fight with another traveler, his rush to occupy an empty seat and, two hours later, the narrator’s new encounter with the man, whom a friend recommends adding a button to his coat , are the elements of the story with which the author and the director play. They are like those brightly colored pieces of wood with which children play to build things.

And it is that Jesús Cracio is, in this montage, a big boy who plays to build a show with the colored pieces (the texts) that Raymond Queneau offers him, and for which he has surrounded himself with other children (the actors) who they have decided to play with him and follow his orders. And that’s how the viewer has to get closer to this show, in which there is nothing to understand and there is no story to follow; just a chain of repetitions that border on – or enter fully into it – the absurd. There is no background or message, just a game, an exercise in style that sometimes turns the stage into a verbal circus ring.

Cracio expertly draws an attractive, dynamic, mocking and fresh show, with the complicity of the imaginative works of Pablo Menor Palomo, Beatriz Robledo, Pilar Velasco, Iñaki Ruiz Maeso and Marta Gómez. The Asturian director says in the program that he prefers willing actors to those available, and the cast he has had has thrown himself into the proposed game without a net and achieves a uniform and convinced interpretation. Álex Villazán – his clown scene was superb -, Claudia Salas and Nur Levi stand out in this dedicated cast.

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