What is Copla? How can we understand such a unique expression of Spanish identity? Welcome to La copla, where you will learn about passion and music in a very amusing way.
In this very interesting cross over between theatre and documentary, full of music, video and songs, we see Alejandro Postigo, also author of the text, going through his connection with Copla songs and his Spanish heritage. Directed by Sergio Maggiolo, and with Jazmine Mitts as Assistant Director, the play is a fresh mix of acting, singing and projections of examples of the Copla music, as well as some other material which the performer connects through his unique perspective to the idea of Copla. The Video Design, by Ricardo Ferreira, is very detailed, and does not overwhelm the audience or steal the thunder from the performer, who shines during the whole performance.
There is not a story behind the play, but a red string that ties everything together: La copla. When the audience enters the room, the music emanating from Jack Elsdon’s piano is flooding the room. Later, the violin played by Violeta Valladares will join the dialogue, for some beautiful and simple arrangements of some very iconic songs.
Postigo introduces very kindly the idea of the show: What is copla? How can he make the audience understand and, more importantly, feel what is la copla? One of the first topics he addresses is the translation of the songs, and how songs have travelled from one culture to another, adapting and adjusting.
Then, one of the strongest and more interesting parts: a game about changing lyrics that helps the audience to understand the ridiculous extremes to which dictatorships went to destroy certain aspects of culture, and how that impact remains even in intimate environments many years later. The private is political, we could say, when we see the actor’s grandmother reacting to his homosexuality.
The identity of the performer as a queer man becomes a main part of the show, and it then becomes clear why it is important to understand the subversive nature of coplas for “the other ones”, for the ones without law.
The music and the voice of the actor (and Valladares participation) are full of glow and passion, and the transformation towards the end of the piece really delivers a good idea of what it means to be in-between.
A passionate pledge for copla as a subversive, meaningful genre full of nuances and a complex history. This is a play to enjoy and let oneself go with the sound of music.
Reviewer: Gonzalo Sentana
Reviewed: 2nd July 2023
North West End UK Rating: