Histoire D'Amour


Edinburgh REVIEW by Willard Manus

The theme of the recently concluded 2013 Edinburgh International Festival was “The way technology seizes and shifts our perceptions.” The theme was explored excitingly by Teatrocinema, a collective Chilean theater company which specializes in the melding of theater and cinema.

In its third go-round at the EIF, Theatrocinema has mounted a lavish production of HISTOIRE D'AMOUR (“Love Story”), which is based on a 1999 French novel by Regis Jauffret, as adapted by Monserrat Quezada and Juan Carlos Zagal (one of the co-founders of the company).Two hardworking and gifted actors star in HISTOIRE, Julian Marras and Bernarditta Montero. They comprise one of the weirdest couples you are ever likely to meet. Marras, a lonely, middle-aged school teacher, first spies Montero on an underground subway station resembling a labyrinth. Immediately attracted to her – obsessed by her, really – he follows her home, forces himself into her apartment and eventually rapes her. Even after he goes to prison for the crime, he continues to stalk her.

As for Montero, she tries her best to evade him, repel him, yet fails to take the final steps that would put him away for good. In her own strange, stubborn way, she is every bit as obsessional and driven as he.

HISTOIRE hammers away for nearly two hours at such sexual issues as the line between reason and madness, love and domination. It tests your limits of tolerance to sit through it, so awful and upsetting is the sadomasochistic relationship between these two damaged people. Yet they are human beings and you slowly begin to care for them even as you are squirming around uncomfortably in your seat..

What lifts HISTOIRE out of the arena of sexual politics is the technology and wizardry displayed by Teatrocinema.. HISTOIRE not only uses theater and film to tell its story, but combinations of computer animation, pop art, stills, rear projection, digital sound and drawings. The final result is an astonishing work of 21st century art. The actors and nineteen technicians worked for two years in the making of this truly groundbreaking production. There are other international companies creating works that combine theater and film, but surely none is as bold and creative as Teatrocinema.