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The Reality review at Cervantes Theatre, London – ‘an impressive performance’

Maite Jáuregui in The Reality at Cervantes Theatre, London
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In The Reality, a one-woman, two-character play by Uruguayan playwright Denise Despeyroux, Maite Jáuregui plays identical twin sisters. One appears live on stage, while the other appears in pre-recorded videos via a webcam. The dual nature of this piece makes Cervantes Theatre’s method of staging half of its performances in English and half in Spanish feel particularly apposite.

Perched on a bed, in front of a laptop and shelves filled with an eclectic range of books, a young woman chants a mantra repeatedly. This is both deliberately annoying and builds up a sense of dread as to what will happen when it stops. The ominously named Andromeda has always felt second best to her twin Luz (‘light’), who is living in India, and apparently dying of an unspecified wasting illness (like Beth in Little Women, which is referenced several times).

In playing out the sisterly devotion and rivalries, Jáuregui is excellent as both the stressed-out Andromeda and the unsettlingly zen Luz. Her timing in playing opposite herself is impeccable. Director Raymi Ortuste Quiroga’s production never feels gimmicky in this respect. Video is such a commonplace method of modern communication and its use raises the question of whether it is less or more painful to say goodbye at a distance.

The most sinister and dramatically extreme aspect of the play – that Andromeda will transform herself into Luz in order to lessen their already emotionally unstable mother’s heartbreak – is dropped abruptly. While the writing is lyrical and inventive, the narrative feels somewhat underdeveloped.

Cervantes Theatre: The Spanish-speaking world’s pioneering home in the UK

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Verdict
Formally inventive play boasting an impressive double performance by Maite Jáuregui
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