By Grace Ferolo
To celebrate their twentieth anniversary and return to live performance, Water People Theater, in league with the Instituto Cervantes, brings LORCA, Living the Experience to Chicago. As advertised, it’s an immersive dive into the world of Andalusian poet and composer Federico García Lorca, featuring music, flamenco dance, larger-than-life video. to Instituto Cervantes.
The Instituto’s auditorium—decked in vivid blacks, greys, whites, and reds, with large green-screens on-stage and cinema-style seats in the house—is rendered even more colorful as an evening sky, mosaic tile, and stained glass windows flash across cast member’s faces as we’re taken through Lorca’s poetry and plays in song. (The performance is in Spanish with English supertitles.)
LORCA’s stopping power lies in its female voices. Ana Santos brings a stand-out performance as the Mother, Neighbor, First Washer-Woman and narrative singer. Her booming voice ricochets through the space, first through traditional Spanish melodies and later as the eerie, nearly-shrieking, grieving mother.
They are all ably lifted by classical guitar (Andrea Salcedo), cajón (Diego Salcedo) and piano (Rebeca Aleman).
Lorca’s subject matter is certainly heavy (“No one knows you because you died forever,” goes the lyric for “Mariana Pienda”), but the cast is able to handle heavy topics like infertility, loneliness and, eventually, death with emotional buoyancy as they play between joy and sorrow with each passing song. In their performances is LORCA’s lesson: to be human is to feel the light and the dark all at once.
LORCA, Living the Experience runs through Wednesday, June 1st at Instituto Cervantes, 31 W Ohio St. For tickets or more information, please visit WaterPeople.org. Masks and vaccination cards are not required.
Photo by Eva Vidal.