Theatre review: Solfatara
Edinburgh Fringe Scotsman review: Solfatara at Summerhall (Venue 26), reviewed by Matt Trueman
People are like volcanoes, Albert Pérez explains. We erupt. Some regularly, some rarely, some only once in a lifetime. In this experimental three-hander, Pérez, in a ratty brown dressing gown and a brown balaclava, basically plays the lava inside us.
Solfatara – the name of a volcanic crater near Naples that emits gases believed to have medicinal effects – shows the cycle of a typical domestic argument. A couple – played by Monica Almirall and Miquel Segovia – are having dinner. Pérez sits between them, voicing the thoughts running around Miquel’s mind: a furious ticker-tape of irrational, pent-up frustrations. “You smell like puff pastry,” he fumes. “The whole house smells like puff pastry. Your pussy smells like puff pastry.” Eventually, Miquel himself pops. The thought bursts out of his mouth and we have a situation on our hands.
This was, it turns out, just the warm-up; a petty squabble. Friends come for dinner and the eruption intensifies. It grows bitter and resentful – sometimes forcedly so. A blame game begins. Miquel gets callous. Monica returns fire. All the while, Pérez chips away, taking sides, fanning the flames.
Pérez is not just the knot of irritation in your stomach. He’s the wobbliness that makes you cry whenever Mozart’s Turkish March is played. He’s the insecurity that gnaws away and the fear of death that festers. He’s the lust that subsumes you in an instant. The gremlin by your side and the chip on your shoulder.
This is feisty, probing stuff from Atresbandes, a young Spanish company introduced to the UK by the terrific BE Festival. It’s raucously funny. Pérez is a livewire presence on stage, and the text snowballs into absurdity until even the surtitles give up with a shrugged “etc”. The staging, often elegantly dislocated, has a real visceral force. A lemon air freshener goes off like a geyser, filling the room with a chemical tang. An elongated, cathartic make-up sex sequence is superb: at once repulsive and entrancing. It starts aggressively, then calms, cools and clears the air.
Profound, humane and perturbing, Solfatara is a powerful piece from an emerging international company we should hear more from.
MORE INFO: Solfatara is at Summerhall
Originally published in The Scotsman