This is a sampling of Gwynneth Dowling’s upcoming plays from the Modern period.
Hamelin by Juan Mayorga
In Hamelin a wealthy figure, Pablo Rivas, has been accused of sexually molesting a child from a deprived area. The parents of this child are suspected of ‘hiring out’ their son for money. Has Rivas acted on his confessed desires for children? Is Josemari, the child in question, telling the truth? Hamelin leaves the answers up to the audience. The investigating judge, Montero, gets no answer and neither do we. No Pied Piper saves the children in this city. The rats have multiplied, spewing forth at the end of the play from Josemari’s childish drawing as he sits alone – betrayed, not rescued, by the system. Hamelin questions the ability of systems of law, psychiatry and bureaucracy to effectively help the weak and vulnerable in modern societies.
Tres sombreros de copa by Miguel Mihura
Three Top Hats is a surreal farce full of physical comedy and colour. It is the eve of Dionisio’s wedding and he is spending it alone in a little hotel. With him he has two top hats – he must decide which to wear to the wedding. His future father-in-law has given him a third as a wedding present. As he holds them, a young woman, Paula, bursts into his room. Paula is a member of a circus troupe that is in town. She sees Dionisio holding his top hats and mistakes him for a juggler. From this point on, Dionisio is caught up in a surreal evening of debauchery and madness in the hotel. Three Top Hats presents two different existences. On the one hand, Paula lives unconventionally in a world of parties and dances. On the other, Dionisio’s married life is set to be filled with routine. Yet both characters find their respective lifestyles monotonous. The play invites us to consider whether true happiness is ever achievable, or whether the grass just appears greener on the other side.
La llamada de Lauren by Paloma Pedrero
Lauren’s Call is a two-character play featuring a man and a woman, Pedro and Rosa. They are celebrating their third wedding anniversary on the same day as the carnival comes to town. It’s an ideal time to dress up! Pedro is dressed as a woman, Rosa as a man. Whereas Rosa is uncomfortable performing her role, Pedro enthusiastically adopts the guise of Lauren Bacall. Lauren’s Call is a play that explores gender identity as Pedro expresses his sense of unease at the male role assigned to him through his pleasure at becoming Lauren.
Himmelweg by Juan Mayorga
Himmelweg has been performed in promenade style at the Royal Court theatre and also has toured Ireland. The play is based on the experience of the Red Cross investigator, Maurice Rossel, who visited the concentration camp at Theresienstadt only to be duped by the model town that had been constructed to deceive visitors. In Himmelweg a Red Cross Representative tells the audience how he too was fooled – or let himself be fooled – by surface appearances and the seductive power of performance. Later, the audience witness how the performance was construed by the Nazi Commandant. As ‘theatre director’ he forces reluctant Jewish inmates to become his actors. Himmelweg is an important play by one of Spain’s most prominent contemporary playwrights that engages with current debates about the responsibility of individuals to speak out against political atrocities.
Written by Gwynneth Dowling