María Agustina Pardini catches Ignacio Bartolone’s ‘La Piel del Poema’, which brings outlandish and fantastical ideas into the realms of reality.
We know for a fact that the job of a writer is a challenging one: delving into one’s subconscious, facing the vacuous process of creation, building 3-D characters out of the blue. However, playwrights are faced with another difficulty that implies writing for stage, that is to say writing to make the image as vivid as possible, writing for the actor to be able to perform such actions and for the audience not to infer an idea but actually to have an image of it. Notwithstanding, the job of Ignacio Bartolone in ‘La piel del poema’, goes even beyond that, far beyond. Bartolone’s production is a jewel, one of those that are hard to find: pure and beautiful; shiny and sharp. His play is without any doubt the product of an author living in the 21st century whose social struggles, humane claims, and psychological inquiries are part of an everyday life.
This is the story of friends who decide to spend their Sunday as usual by the Panamá riverside, a policeman who dreams of becoming a poet, a gaucho who is looking for his long-disappeared lover, and another policeman whose dream about an isolated umbrella in the middle of a vacant room is troubling him. From the very beginning the play intends to portray the twisted plot it is about to unveil: each character is trapped in a situation that will not allow their true selves and desires to be easily let out. As such, the search for their identities implies a long expedition that will include endless dancing, a gruelling journey along the Panamá river, and the dosage of native wonder drugs.
Bartolomé’s superb and outlandish ideas could not have been put into practice, were it not for the terrific troupe of actors with whom he works he works with: Karina Elsztein, Marcos Ferrante, Cristina Lamothe, Ariel Perez De Maria, and Luciano Ricio. All of them master their bodies implacably, and their litoral dialect is impressive and subtle. Because that is exactly what the play is remarkable for: its ethereal remarks, and whenever the twists become grotesque it is because there is categoric intention of doing so – nothing is left to chance. It is important to highlight the work of Lamothe, Ricio and the musician, Franco Calluso, who give the play with a pulsating rhythm hard to find these days. They are also the great bearers of the strange voice Bartolone so successfully depicts.
Yet what renders this play a significantly exotic gem is the capacity the playwright has to give sudden u-turns all along the route. “Embrace the unexpected” is the motto of this proposal, as there are no pre-established routes for the play to transit; limitless creation and sudden twists clutter the performance from beginning to end. And that is precisely where humor is conceived: in the isolated realm, far away from the common place, in a distant location from what is prescribed as normal. Literary stains paint the dialogues, making reference to Bartolome’s influence and background: Ezra Pound, T.S Elliot, Arthur Rimbaud, and Cesar Vallejo, among others.
The young playwright’s creation is an utterly unmissable masterpiece, a poetic but still oddly funny one. A parody of real life, an empathic production, a distorting challenging twist to the traditional national dramaturgy where the pre-established order is questioned and the odd one is not left out but in.
La Piel del Poema is on at Teatro el Extranjero, Valentín Gómez 3380, Abasto every Friday at 11pm. For more information, visit their Facebook page.