By Jim Gilles
Los Angeles, California (The Hollywood Times) 06/09/2022
Wednesday evening, June 8, was the first night of a two-week engagement of Spain’s celebrated Kulunka Teatro’s André & Dorine, with their poignant depiction of love and aging disrupted by Alzheimer’s. André & Dorine will receive a two-week run from June 8 through June 19, at the L.A. Theatre Center in downtown Los Angeles, sponsored by Latino Theater Company.
The story is a familiar one, but its execution is unique and exquisite, relayed with humor and pathos. Directed by Iñaki Rikarte, three writers/players wearing oversized masks collectively perform 15 roles. These fine actors reflect a universe of experience with a single gesture or turn of the head. Mask work reduces the craft of acting to the essential elements of pose and gesture. There are no words or facial expressions. Watching a piece as declarative, accessible, and affecting as Kulunka Teatro’s André & Dorine, one recalls the origins of theatre in ancient cultures where masks, mime, movement, and gesture told stories.
André & Dorine tells the story of an elderly couple – André with his typewriter, Dorine with her cello – and how they relive and reinvent their love together as the disease of Alzheimer’s becomes a permanent part of their relationship. Three actors portray more than 15 different characters using no spoken dialogue, telling the story with only masks, gesture and movement.
Performed with mime, masks and music, Andre and Dorine revolves around this elderly couple: Andre (José Dault), a writer, and Dorine (Garbiñe Insausti), a musician. When we meet them, time and sameness have eroded their affection for one another; their lives have become a stream of endless bickering and frustration, a competition to see who can best irk the other. Occasionally they are visited by their son (Edu Cárcamo), an ambassador from the outside world who does his best to humor his finicky parents.
Everything changes after Dorine is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Andre must care for her as she grows steadily more childlike and gradually drifts into another sphere. As that happens, he recalls the past: the first time they met, their first tryst, their wedding and the birth of their son – scenes played out as a joyful counterpart to the grim reality that Andre stoutly wrestles with.
André & Dorine was written by El José Dault, Garbiñe Insausti, Iñaki Rikarte, Edu Cárcamo and Rolando San Martín. The original music is by Yayo Cáceres. Jose Dault, Garbiñe Insausti, and Edu Cárcamo parade strenuously and without error through ninety minutes’ excruciating exactness, wearing endearingly molded whole-head masks in which a tilt of a single degree means the difference between blunder and successful communication.
Ms. Insausti made the masks herself, and so it is perhaps not surprising that hers is the outstanding performance of three flawless performances: her exquisite subtlety of movement is so specific and grounded that it would read equally well on film or in a stadium. These actors should be studied minutely by anyone interested in learning how to display emotion and ideas before an audience.
The director, Iñaki Rikarte, is an expert with the economy of scene changes. He has the benefit of expert assistance from Laura Gómez (set), Carlos Samaniego (lighting), Ikerne Giménez (costumes), and Yayo Cáceres (composer). The play itself, written by the cast, their director, and assistant director Rolando San Martín, veers slightly broad at scattered moments, as international touring spectacles will. It’s a bit earthy at times. But the resonance and transport of this phenomenal production are more profound than some of the more “serious plays” you will see in your life.
Established in 2010 in the Basque region of Spain, Kulunka Teatro experiments with stage language to produce theater that is vibrant, contemporary, committed and strongly connected to reality. This Basque troupe has been performing the three-actor, many-character play for a couple of years now, all over Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and the Americas. This theater piece is a reminder of how mime, masks, and puppetry represent the origins of drama in cultures. As a mastery of vision and technique, the performance is oddly humorous at times, but also a grim reminder of what Alzheimer’s does to people and their loved ones.
In addition to enjoying success throughout Spain, the company has toured extensively in Europe, South America, Asia and the United States, winning multiple awards including the Spanish equivalent of a Tony Award for Solitude and the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle award for André & Dorine.
André & Dorine will receive a two-week run from June 8 through June 19, with performances on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m. Tickets range from $10–$48. The Los Angeles Theatre Center is located at 514 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90013.
Parking is available for $5 with box office validation at Joe’s Parking structure, 530 S. Spring St. (immediately south of the theater).
To purchase tickets and for more information, including up-to-date Covid-19 safety protocols on the date of each performance, call (213) 489-0994 or go to www.latinotheaterco.org.