“23-F continues to talk about today.” He says it, and it more than proves it, Àlex Rigola in the montage 23 F Anatomía d´un instant that on Thursday night, in its successful premiere at the Teatre Lliure de Gràcia, it surprised the audience with a devastating theatrical force. From the masterful novel by Javier Cercas Anatomy of an instant (Mondadori), reissued this year on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the 1981 coup, Rigola builds an exciting documentary theater piece. Being rigorously faithful to Cercas’s work, he narrates with corrosive humor the events and consequences of a black day in which, fortunately, democracy won.
The show, with Cercas in the room on opening night, is performed in Catalan and will be offered in Spanish on a tour that will close next year at the Teatro de la Abadía in Madrid. Choosing for its premiere the historic headquarters of the Lliure de Gràcia, symbol of the struggle for democracy and freedom, has an added courage in these times of harassment and demolition of a figure like King Juan Carlos I. In its text, Cercas , and this is reflected by Rigola, without hesitation or false flattery, in his assembly, he demolishes conspiracy theories and recognizes the now controversial king emeritus as the key man who stopped the coup of 23-F. And in today’s Catalonia, with so many republican and independence passions unleashed, hearing that recognition in the Lliure has its morbidity.
The scenery is a success for simplicity and efficiency. Party atmosphere —the 40th anniversary of the coup is celebrated—, some tables and chairs, many balloons, a miniature doll of Juan Carlos I sitting on a chair, a tricorne, a pistol and much, much sarcasm in the narratives, strung with brilliance.
The effectiveness of the dramaturgy lies in the power of the word — there is no shortage of iconic phrases such as “everyone still!” or “neither is there, nor is expected”, in Spanish—, in the gestures of the heroes who stood up to the coup plotters, and in the value of the photographs that document that moment that the passage of time has turned into an icon of the bravery in the face of fascist harassment.
Four actors, from different generations – emphasizes Pep Cruz, the only one with his own memories of 23-F, very well supported by Enric Auquer, Xavier Sáez and Roser Vilajosana in a formidable teamwork -, are in charge of the narration of the events of the 23-F and its consequences: they hit the humorous tone, like minstrels, dressed in crazy pajamas of multicolored rabbits, and they keep alive the pulse of a four-voice chronicle with anthological moments.
They have a screen behind where photographs are projected, always in black and white, of key characters in that tense day full of dangers, including Adolfo Suárez, General Gutiérrez Mellado, Santiago Carrillo – the only politicians who remained seated in their seats while it rained. the bullets-, Juan Carlos I and, on the coup side, Antonio Tejero, Armada and Milans del Bosch.
The document theater exercise that Rigola proposes conveys truthfulness, without addenda or sectarian distortions. Javier Cercas reproduces only rigorously documented and verified phrases and dialogues. Listening to them today has an exceptional testimonial value, because after the words emerge the charisma, the virtues and the defects, the successes and the errors of the characters regardless of their political affiliation. They have many faces, and for this reason they are more human and close.
The courage of Gutiérrez Mellado in getting up and standing up to Tejero, the poise of Suárez and Carrillo, who remain seated – the then General Secretary of the Communist Party even lights a cigarette while the other deputies take refuge under his seat while the shots and the submachine gun bursts —… images of an epic moment, preserved by the TVE camera that remained on. These gestures have such force and veracity that today they continue to shake the viewer.
On 23-F, we said at the beginning, keep talking about today. And the narration of the events, the dialogues and gestures, the courage and the height of vision of some politicians who, from opposite sides, found a way to unite in the defense of democratic values, acquire a transcendent dimension in our days, when so many try to happily liquidate the spirit of the Transition.