La vida es sueno (Life is a Dream)

Repertorio Español's production of La Vida es Sueño, or in English, Life is a Dream, in its original Spanish by Pedro Calderón de la Barca, is a great contribution to the Spanish speaking community.

Luis Carlos de La Lombana gives a remarkable performance as Segismundo, a man imprisoned from birth by his father, the King, in reaction to a prophecy. Segismundo is released into the world, and his identity as a Prince revealed. Or is the revelation mere illusion? De La Lombana presents an intense physical engagement with the language and wonderfully melds the bestial and contemplative components of the character. As philosophical queries and despair pour from his throat his invisible chains are tangible.

The theatre is a lovely little space, its sides lined with a balcony and dotted with windows, so that it feels like it's in between two homes. The beautiful design by Robert Weber Federico includes large panels of mirror shards that provide alternate shattered perspectives on the stage action, accompanied by consistently stunning and dynamic lighting design. Directed by René Buch with care and specificity, the production's tone is consistent, dramatic, and fantastical.

Hablo un poco de español, pero no mucho. I wish I understood Spanish so that I could experience this production to its fullest. I found myself switching between listening to the audio translation and watching the production without it, understanding bits and pieces. Since the play is so brilliant I could hardly resist attending despite the language barrier. The degree of physical connection to language, accomplished well by the whole cast but most notably by de La Lombana, as well as the excellent spatial storytelling on the part of René Buch made the production successful regardless of the fact that it was in a language of which I have only a cursory understanding. But Calderón de la Barca's exquisite poetry I imagine is not nearly the same when recited by an English translator, not lining up directly with the stage action, as opposed to surging forth from some excellent Spanish speaking actors.