A meeting has been called at the Bureau of Surrealist Research and everyone’s invited. We are here in the study of writer Andre Breton, alongside the likes of Rene Magritte, Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí, to see a re-enactment of the life and death of the great poet Federico García Lorca.
The difficulty is that the surrealists can’t agree on how to proceed. Their divergent politics make storytelling problematic and the meeting is frequently at near anarchy.
The audience, members of which are pulled into the action at various points—most memorably to play Lorca himself, albeit briefly—is kept guessing throughout. The show is peppered with bizarre dramatic non-sequiturs that make the evening feel more like a series of sketches than a work of narrative drama. Towards the end of the evening, however, when Lorca’s story gathers momentum and the characters have had a chance to establish themselves, a fragile narrative appears. This, in addition to some fine performances from Marcus Emerton as Breton and Joe Hufton as Buñuel, makes for an affecting conclusion.
The cleverness in this writing effectively evokes the spirit of the time, but intellectual in-jokes, whether they be literary, philosophical or political, sometimes feel a bit like showing off.
Not all the risks that Belt Up Theatre takes with Lorca is Dead pay off, but that’s the danger of not playing safe. It may not be perfect, but this is just the sort of risky theatre-making that the Fringe is all about