Co-produced by Cheek by Jowl, Compañía Nacional de Teatro Clásico (CNTC Madrid) and LAZONA; in collaboration with the Barbican, London and Scène Nationale d’ALBI-Tarn, France
The only time I saw a production by Cheek by Jowl was in 1981, when the company was an infant. I don’t remember the play I saw, but I remember the company because the production was jaw-droppingly good. For this reason, I chose to review, decades later, Life is a Dream.
In this classic Spanish tale, a prince is released from imprisonment to test whether the prophesy that he will be a tyrant, will, in fact, come true. The play is listed as one of the forty greatest plays of all time. It was performed in Spanish with English surtitles.
First published in 1636, you could be forgiven for wondering if it might be a bit dated. Not a bit of it. Director, Declan Donellan, has done a splendid job with this staging. It had all the dramatic elements which made Cheek by Jowl memorable all those years ago. There was a good bit of interaction with the audience, unfortunately not visible in the balcony where I was seated, but the actor did run up the stairs at one point to ensure nobody was left out (good man yourself!) music, dancing, doors opening and closing, and a clever episode created as if it were a sitcom with canned laughter to boot.
If you want to see the physical rendering of a clever, creative mind at work, in collaboration with other creative minds, go and see a Cheek by Jowl production.
Reviewer: Kathleen Mansfield
Reviewed: 26th August 2023
North West End UK Rating: