I’m sorry, but I just can’t do it anymore! As the theatre critic for Working Author I have applied every conceivable synonym in my lexicon to extol (commend, applaud, laud) the Fountain Theatre’s “Forever Flamenco!” series and my thesaurus runneth dry! But Lucy Pollack – publicist par excellence – invites me to review yet another performance and then the panic sets in!
By all that’s holy in Jennifer Connelly’s long johns, what am I to do?
If the performance is at all like the others it will be exceptional (outstanding, dazzling, terrific) and then the ugly truth will come to light – that as far as superlatives go my lexicon is bankrupt. I am a linguistic pauper, denuded of even a single term of praise I haven’t already conferred in describing the “juergas” producer Deborah Lawlor has been staging.
I try to convince myself that maybe this time the show will suck. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Then I can fall back on comparatives and no one will be the wiser. But deep in my heart I know mine is a forlorn hope. I know that I’m just tap dancing on the Titanic’s deck blithely ignoring how wet my socks are.
I arrive at the venue on Fountain Avenue, which arguably has become the preeminent American peña flamenca, and within the first minute of the show I have my sad delusions dashed.
With musicians Antonio Triana, Alfredo Caceres and Samuel Flores Macias, the company, consisting of dancers Fanny Ara, Misuda Cohen and Manuel Gutierrez, and the cantaores (singers) Jose Cortes and Antonio De Jerez, opens the show with the dynamism you’d expect of “The Big Bang”.
It is not merely terrific (commendable, worthy, admirable) it is sensational (sterling, magnificent, glorious).
I have seen both cantaores before. The strength and intensity of Cortes’ voice is a revelation, and will have you wondering if his rendering of the impassioned cante grande will literally topple the roof down onto the audience. I have read of Flamenco cantaores entering into a trance of ecstasy while in song. The Gypsies called this state “duende”. And while I may not understand it, I believe that in Cortes I have seen it.
De Jerez is a talent one should feel grateful for having experienced. His voice seems to channel the whole of Spanish history in its scope – the devotion of an Islamic Adhan call to prayer, the sorrowfulness of the Marranos, the guerrillero’s defiant cry.
The Bailaores (dancers) Ara and Cohen move over the stage like graceful tornados. Very sexy tornados in very sexy dresses.
One of the features of Flamenco is that you cannot “phone it in” or just “go through the paces”. It is passion that fuels the song and the dance of Flamenco to attempt it without passion would be like playing in the Super Bowl with a deflated football.
Manuel Gutierrez is impeccable (flawless, mind-boggling, spectacular) and as he dances the world must tremble under his feet.
The talent on this stage definitely raises the bar; you can see that in the manner these performers share the stage with one another. There is a palpable reverence for each others talents that you feel. There is also an unmistakable bliss present. Here they don’t have to hold back, they can go full out challenging and inspiring each other to push themselves to their upmost. These people are elated to be together and it shows.
It’s one reason why “Forever Flamenco!” is always awe-inspiring (breathtaking, stunning…er…stunning, no, I already said that! Breathtaking, stunning and…and…. Arrrrgggggg!)
Please, Ms. Lawlor, can’t you find it in your heart, just for a change, to place on your stage some evening’s entertainment that in some small measure stinks? Now I’m not asking for “The Ten Commandments” the musical with Val Kilmer as a high kicking Moses or Charlie Sheen’s “Tiger Blood Tour”. No, all I’m asking for is just one minuscule flaw. Something I can grab onto like a drowning sailor would a fortuitous piece of driftwood. Then I could cunningly sidestep the employment of any superlative and my horrible secret would be safe.
I have a glut of pejorative terms – awful, calamitous, dire, cataclysmic, screable, horrendous, ghastly, vile, alacuothic, imbonity, crass, repugnant, grubby, slimy, bemuted, obtuse, infandous – I’ve been saving them up just in case I went to see “Sunny Afternoon…”.
Ms. Lawlor are you hearing my plea…?
Is anyone there…?
Oh I see your game.
You don’t care two snaps for my wretched predicament, oh no. You’re just going to continue to mount evenings of “Forever Flamenco!” featuring the most breathtaking, mind-blowing, awesome Flamenco artists L.A. has to offer. You want to see me stripped of my vocabulary and reduced to the level where I’m forced in desperation to scrap at the dregs of my phraseological barrel!
““Forever Flamenco!” is quite frankly a neato-keano show.”
“One seldom sees dancers who are so hunkydory.”
No! Never, I say. I will not be trounced by my inability to communicate your unremitting excellence!
I won’t go down like a sheep to the slaughter; I’ll go down like a sesquipedalian to the slaughter!
I shall review you on the beaches, I shall review you in the fields, I shall review you in the streets.
You hear me Lawlor, this is war!
Now you’ll excuse me, but there are Thesauruses out there that I need to start stock piling!