The actor and director Josep María Flotats recovers a text that he premiered twenty years ago at the Bellas Artes theater to now represent it in Spanish: Paris, 1940by Louis Jouvet.
Two years ago Flotats offered a master class on the staging of the classics with the staging of the imaginary patientin The Comedy. It was a perfect show that, unfortunately, barely had a run. He now once again proves that he is a master with a colossal performance by French theater genius Jouvet. A whole lesson in how to approach the incarnation of a character.
The first pleasant impression of the night is listening to the actors -and hearing them perfectly- without a microphone, something increasingly rare, even in our first theater. The actors’ work comes to us directly, without amplification, and we can appreciate its nuances.
Paris, 1940, It is a complicated text due to its repetitiveness and requires the viewer’s concentration. During the first weeks of the German invasion of France, Jouvet gave lessons at the conservatory to a few students. The entire work revolves around two pages of a text: Doña Elvira’s monologue in the Don Juanby Moliere. This allows an intense one-on-one between the teacher and the student who interprets it. She tries again and again to reach the levels, especially of feeling, that the teacher demands of her. They are supported by two other young interpreters, always present and with hardly any text. Only in the final scene everything seems to fit. It is an exciting epilogue that puts a lump in the viewer’s throat because theater, art, is revealed as a weapon of resistance against the advances of Nazism.
In their Testimonials about the theaterJouvet wrote: “Whether it is a matter of thinking, speaking or writing, the actor is left to himself in the middle of his nothingness. Its nature and his vocation consist in being empty and hollow, in being available, accessible, vacant, habitable”.
Flotats fills itself and It’s Louis Jouvet, at the same time that he is distilling his theories, even if it is tormenting the poor students. The actor moves away from histrionics except when he parodies the sacred monsters of the French scene. He is a passionate being, in love with his job, both as a character, as a performer and stage director. Of course he has an advantage: he knows the game very well. Don Juan because it was one of his great successes with the Comédie.
This risky theatrical exercise needs an actress who can measure up to the master. And Flotats has found it in Natalia Huarte, seasoned in classical Spanish theater and already with a decade of career behind her. Her interpretation is extraordinary, repeating over and over again, in every possible way, Doña Elvira’s heart-wrenching plea to Don Juan to be saved from damnation.
They complete the deal Francisco Dávila, Juan Carlos Mesonero and Arturo Martínez Vázquez.
In the last quarter of a century, Josep María Flotats has given us a handful of memorable interpretations: Art, Dinner, Beaumarchais, The meeting of Descartes either to be or not. I don’t know how many more it will bring us but, for now, take the opportunity to see this last one.
Paris, 1940is represented in the Spanish theater until January 8. By the way, older viewers, especially, would love to have the handheld shows on paper again, absurdly suppressed during the pandemic.