Theatre review: Atresbandes’s Locus Amoenus @ HUB – ‘endearing and enjoyable’

By February 1, 2016

Theatre & Dance. Leeds.


Atresbandes’ Locus Amoenus is an incredibly original piece in that it gives away its plotline’s denouement right at the start of the show. So we know that the three passengers, played by Mònica Almirall, Miquel Segovia and Albert Pérez Hidalgo, are going to die in a train crash one hour later. But if you think this is going to make the events more profound and intense you have got the wrong show. In fact the piece is at times quite frivolous, though there is an underlying tension too.

It is full of simple ideas taken to their logical, if absurd, conclusion. For example, the female actress – ultra cool in shades and trendy casual ware – messes about with the zips on her bag, the sound from which is amplified to create an irritating almost menacing effect. The narrative for the two male actors begins with one of them on the nod, gradually slipping down on his partner until he is practically on his crotch.

locus-amoenus-2This is simply hilarious and straight after he awakes they begin an hysterical bout of laughter which goes on so long as to become uncomfortable. There then ensues a scene where everything is lost in translation, one in English the other in Spanish. This becomes quite infuriating and after a while they get the female actress to translate for them, but she does this only partially and with a mean manner.

It turns out that the Englishman sees a close resemblance in the Spaniard to his late brother, at first this cheers him, but then come floods of tears and hysteria. This continues for some time until eventually the Englishman attempts to kiss his partner, and then the whole mood of the piece explodes. This display of the Spaniard’s anger and awkwardness is extremely painfully powerful but to the woman it is hilarious and it is her turn for an attack of laughter.

The ending is as predicted but we have been on a real rollercoaster ride of emotions – including bizarre humour, happiness, isolation and anger – and we really identify with all three, though we are not over-sympathetic, just curious. The show benefits from masterful direction, inventive sound and lighting design, but most of all a superb ensemble performance. Witty, whimsical and whacky, but also quite endearing and immensely enjoyable.

Reviewed by Rich Jevons at Holbeck Underground Ballroom (The HUB at Slung Low), Leeds on 31 January 2016. See for tour dates.