Guerrilla review: What’s the worst that can happen?
Behind the outwardly peaceable or noisy crowd scenes in this dystopian fantasy, there are wars waiting to erupt
Venue: Project Arts Centre
Date Reviewed: October 2nd, 2016
Project Arts Centre, Dublin
There is a storm brewing throughout Guerrilla, an archly dystopian fantasy from Spain’s El Conde de Torrefiel, where outwardly peaceable scenes are accompanied by descriptions of wars raging within and looming global crises.
As surtitles depict the next decade in fantastical detail, sleepwalking towards the third World War, the stage becomes populated by local volunteers in bright hues for the first of three tableaux vivants. The text picks faces from the crowd – young men and women, identified by initials – first at a theatre conference, where writer Pablo Gisbert supplies a flood of personal and historical detail, always plumbing for conflagration. The role of a young Spanish woman’s grandfather in the Civil War, or the recollection of a young Dublin man’s grandmother of the Irish Emergency make connections that first nudge, and later shove, at the idea that chaos is really our natural order.
Progressing through a Tai Chi class, in which the strained tranquillity of the participants is juxtaposed with a nihilistic conversation about the working class, and leading finally to an indefatigable, noisesome rave scene (for which similarly negative interpretations and earplugs are provided), it pursues a relentlessly pessimistic philosophy through all this leisure activity. This, you feel, is what it must be like to party with Schopenhauer.
Directors and dramaturgs Tanya Beyeler and Gisbert build up a wry lattice between reality and fantasy (some of the more quotidian details have been harvested from the volunteers). Certain points are sly and well-aimed, such as the cyclical nature of history, the illusionary nature of peace, the economic factors behind our fates, or just how unbudgeably comfortable a theatre audience can be. But their darker forecasts are so specific as to be less satiric than merely silly. (What kind of apocalyptic fantasy of global warfare doesn’t include President Trump’s retaliation?)
Such bleak imaginings are also like guerrilla fighters, though, sniping from cover to upset civilised, anaesthetised routine. It may be more useful to air them than to leave them unexplored. Besides, as the show suggests – what’s the worst that could happen?