Olives & Blood
Time Out says
The death of Spanish poet and playwright Federico García Lorca at the hands of Franco’s militia in 1936 is shrouded in mystery. People still don’t know where he was buried or exactly why he was killed – his death has now become a symbol for the brutality of the Spanish Civil War. In his new play, American academic and playwright, Michael Bradford speculates on the events leading up to the death of the poet.
‘Olives and Blood’ jumps, occasionally confusingly, backward and forward through time, touching on a handful of Lorca’s relationships – with actress Margarita Xirgu and with the soldier Alonso who originally arrested him. But the main thrust of the plot lies with one man, Juan Luis Trescante, who purported to be one of the soldiers who killed the poet that night.
Trescante’s admissions and his tortured life are presumably all imagined by Bradford, but he dramatises it convincingly and performer Charlie Kerson is compelling. His furrowed brow provokes a touch of sympathy and a touch of loathing.
Louis Labovitch plays Lorca and is quite remarkable in his resemblance to the surrealist master. He gives an engrossing performance that brings out the character’s vulnerability, but also his drive. It’s these two performances, which lift Prav MJ’s simple production – staged in a funky new theatre space, made up of a stripped down former furniture warehouse in Brixton – to new heights.
There’s a nice touch of magical realism in the play, but the multitude of characters, opinions and events feel too crammed into the one hour 40 minutes running time and we are never really sure who is at the centre of the play. And if you’re looking for a definitive conclusion to what happened to Lorca, you’ll be disappointed. By now, the details of his violent and early death have most likely gone with someone to their grave.
By Daisy Bowie-Sell