Review: Cuzco at Theatre 503 28/01/2019

A rarity in penetrating the rather inward-looking British theatre programme and even rarer still in translating from Spanish to English with such coherence and fluidity, Victor Sanchez Rodriguez’s Cuzco offers a welcome signpost for foreign theatre on the English stage.

Depicting the gradual deterioration of a couple’s relationship on the Inca Trail, Rodriguez’s script and the translation from William Gregory maintains a distinctly Iberian feel but succeeds because of the universality of the subjects dissected throughout.

With Gareth Jones and Dilek Rose playing He and She respectively, they handle the complexities of this double-handed play well, maintaining an awesome level intensity for the entire 70 minute runtime.

Rose in particular shifts through the gears as she gradually takes centre stage, her character’s engrossing mologues exploring further the themes of nationality and self-discovery in an unfamiliar place.

The pair are accomplished in magnifying their differences as the play progresses – She rejecting the tourist traps and finding solace instead with the locals, eventually to tragic effect.

Jones is earnest as the frustrated He, torn between his own journey and the conflicting path of his partner as he embraces the attention of an unseen  couple also touring the trail.

A gripping and intense examination of love and self-identity in a foreign land, this is another gem to discover in south London.

Hosted at Theatre 503 in Battersea, the venue rightfully has a burgeoning reputation for showcasing new work and emerging artists at a time when it seems easier to not take such risks.

On this, the set design the audio-visuals are subtle but well-judged, chiming with She’s assertion that ‘all hotel rooms are the same with minor differences’ but allowing those minor flourishes to distinguish and enliven the space.

Lighting is also manipulated effectively, mirroring the conflicting and shifting psyches of the two protagonists as they find themselves increasingly at odds with each other.

A welcome example of what happens when you take a risk on something entirely different, Cuzco runs until January 16.

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