The Reality is one of those ‘Marmite effect’ plays. If you enjoy your philosophy lessons and revel in conversations that have a more confusing end than beginning, then you’ll probably love it. However, if you run away from grandiose discourses and are allergic to mysticisms, this show may not be your cup of tea.
Twin sisters Lucy and Andromeda (Maite Jáuregui) have very different approaches to life. While Lucy decided to move to India to embrace meditation and Buddhist teachings, Andromeda studied psychology and sees reality from the prism of science. There’s a complicated relationship between the two of them, with mixed deep feelings of love, hate, jealousy and fascination for each other.
The conversation between both sisters takes place in Andromeda’s bedroom, where they speak via video call. Projected on the wall we see Lucy – a pre-recorded video since Jáuregui performs both characters – sitting calmly in her Indian retreat cell while Andromeda walks restlessly around her room carrying the laptop through which she speaks to her sister.
Andromeda is learning from Lucy how to become her so their mother won’t suffer when the latter is not around. From there starts an intense conversation on the meaning of suffering, forgiveness and spiritual teachings. There’s a strong aura of Greek mythology surrounding the play and at times the arguments between Andromeda and Lucy resemble Plato’s dialogues.
In the Theogony, the poem by Hesiod where he describes the origins and genealogies of the Greek gods, Night and Day existence depend on each other, and still they can never be living together: “…while the one is about to go down into the house, the other comes out at the door. And the house never holds them both within; but always one is without the house passing over the earth, while the other stays at home and waits until the time for her journeying comes”. Like Night and Day, Lucy and Andromeda’s lives are closely intertwined but can’t coexist at once.
Although Denise Despeyroux’s script brings interesting subjects to the stage, it remains overall obscure and over mystified, even pretentious at times. It becomes somehow obvious that the relationship between the twins and Andromeda’s efforts to impersonate Lucy are just an allegory to something else – what that else is, however, remains unclear. To me The Reality resembles a Philosophy class: one hour packed with metaphysics and elaborated theories digging into the meaning of life, but come the end, nothing is clear. While this kind of exchange might appeal to some people, it might also be too over the top for others.
Jáuregui’s performance of both sisters is passionate, even if stilted and affected at times. The coordination between the live acting and the recorded video is dextrous and probably the most original element of the play.
Author: Denise Despeyroux
Director: Raymi Ortuse Quiroga
Producer: Paula Paz
Box Office: 020 3633 4406
Booking Link: https://www.cervantestheatre.com/home/the-reality/
Booking Until: 18 May
Performances in English: Fridays and Saturdays (3rd, 4th, 10th, 11th, 17th and 18th May)
Performances in Spanish: Wednesdays and Thursdays (1st, 2nd, 8th, 9th, 15th, 16th May)