The first thing one notes about the Mal de Montaña production is that it is SUPER chic. Very disciplined and gorgeous in an extremely low-buck minimal way— a real example of how much you can do with very little, especially in terms of set and lighting. (Mujer Puerca was another good example of this.) Every moment of the play looked the cover of an album. In fact this is the only production photo you’ll see on this blog for which I did the terrible thing of sneaking the iPhone out of my lap and taking a picture during the show. The publicity stills are fine, but I just needed you to see.
I realized that this show isn’t the first time I’ve seen these techniques in Buenos Aires, even in very different kinds of productions. I mentioned I think that Daniel Veronese’s Bergmann adaptation was basically very commercial and, to me, unremarkable. But one interesting thing he did, in this conventional play which clearly takes course over the course of one long day, was never never pause the action or dim the lights, etc, to indicate the passing of time. For example at one point we’re setting the table for dinner, but soon it seems as though dinner is over, though we haven’t stopped talking. And by the end it seems like the middle of the night, though “passage of time” has never been specifically indicated. Also, Claudio Tolcachir uses the same technique in the third act of Coleman— it's everywhere here. A very nice kind of subtly non-literal stage time.
As a director, Paula also stages Fauna with this great minimal elegance that BsAs theatre does at its best. And the really interesting thing here was that on the page Fauna is a bit more conventional than Mal de Montaña, in the sense that the scenes happen in specific places, in order, and add up to a narrative. But in her production Paula does the same thing with her own text that Drut did with Loza’s: mushes the scenes together so there are no gaps to imply passage of time or change of place. And even more interestingly, Paula leaves all the characters on stage all the time, even when they’re “not there”—in some cases they're indicated or contemplated as someone talks about them, in some cases they sort of respond as if they “hear” something they’re not really “there” for. Interesting.
PS, of course there’s a way to think that this may all have been borne of necessity: when you have to strike the show every night (and also when you have little money), you need to imagine a stage space without literal sets, which maybe opens other doors…?