I've never been part of a lynch mob before. Tangram Theatre's production of Lope de Vega's Spanish Golden Age play works the audience into a vengeful frenzy.
Lope de Vega was a contemporary of Shakespeare who boasted of writing a play a day. Around 340 of his works survive – ten times as many plays as Bankside's own bard wrote.
Not seen on the London stage for more than two decades, Lope's historical play about humble villagers who stand up to a tyrannical commander is brought up-to-date by Daniel Goldman's production.
My heart sank when we were warned at the start of the play about the interactive nature of the performance, but in fact those with a phobia of enforced audience participation have little to worry about.
Henry Hitchings of the Evening Standard answered the first call for volunteers at the press night and delivered the required lines with appropriate style.
With 11 actors playing 18 characters, it was at first a little hard to keep track of who was who, but after a slow start things soon got going.
Peter Stickney and Rachel Dale's portrayal of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella as daytime TV hosts drew a warm reaction from the audience.
Hannah Boyde as Laurencia has some powerful speeches – especially at the 'junta' or secret meeting where the audience conspires along with the villagers of Fuente Ovejuna.
The ease with which the audience is co-opted into a lynch mob is potent reminder of the power of the crowd.
Despite having studied it at university, I had forgotten nearly everything about Fuente Ovejuna. What better way to rediscover it than this lively production?
Lope de Vega's tale of honour and justice in 15th-century Spain is told with toilet fresheners, water bombs and party hats. A thoroughly memorable evening of theatre that is highly recommended.
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