PICASSO: MATADOR DE MALAGAWritten by Matthew Posey
Ochre House Theater
Written & Directed by Matthew Posey
Choreography by Antonio Arrebola & Delilah Buitrón Arrebola
Scenic Artist – IZK Davies
Original Music – Alfonso Cid & Calvin Hazen
Costume Design – Fernando Hernandez & Justin Locklear
Set Design – Matthew Posey
Lighting Design – Kevin Grammer
Set Engineer – Mitchell Parrack
Artistic Director – Ochre House Theatre Matthew Posey
Directors – The Dallas Flamenco Festival, Antonio Arrebola & Delilah Buitrón Arrebola
Pablo Picasso – Antonio Arrebola
Jacqueline Roque – Delilah Buitrón Arrebola
Mari-Thérèse Walter – Danielle Bondurant
Françoise Gilot – Frida Espinosa-Müller
Dora Maar – Stephanie Cleghorn
David Douglas Duncan – Chris Sykes
Georges Braque – William Acker
Cantaor & Flute – Alfonso Cid
Guitarrista – Calvin Hazen
Stage Management – Korey Parker
House Management – Cynthia Webb
House Assistance – Carla Parker
Reviewed Performance: 6/24/2018
Reviewed by Eric Bird, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
The choreography and dancing of this show were phenomenal. Antonio Arrebola & Delilah Buitrón Arrebola made excellent choices in each number. I enjoyed the various rhythms that were incorporated from traditional flamenco. Throughout the show I heard the prominent guitar, occasional flute, vocals, and the dancer’s feet. Each introduced a new rhythm, with the guitar leading and the dancers creating a counterpoint with their feet. The quick foot work of the dancers and the shaping of the bodies provided strong visuals to correspond with the rhythms. All of these communicated the story of Picasso, from his almost violent interactions with his lovers to his passionate dances with his muse. The Arrebolas did an excellent job choreographing these numbers.
Since this show focused on a prolific artist, IZK Davies had quite the task of creating artwork for the show. Across the stage some large pieces of Picasso’s work were recreated. Along the sidelines of Picasso’s studio were many canvases arranged in piles. All of these had clear connections to various parts of the show. Davies did well creating art that drew the eyes to the stage and helped to advance the story.
The cantaor Alfonse Cid did very well in the vocalizations and rhythm. His original compositions stayed true to the feel and style of flamenco, and I enjoyed the incorporation of the different clapping rhythms. Calvin Hazen was the guitarrista for the production. His guitar playing was impressive, with his fingers flying across the fretboard. He incorporated the various rhythms and melodies and helped bring the audience directly into Spain. Together these two masterfully created the music that drove the dancing throughout the show.
Fernando Hernandez and Justin Locklear designed the costumes for the show. They kept the costuming simple, using mostly black to set a solemn tone and to keep the focus on the more important aspects of the show. Most of the dancers wore matching long, black skirts but Jacqueline Roque wore a dress in a different style. This helped establish her importance in the production. She was also the only character to wear a fully colored costume. I appreciated how Hernandez and Locklear kept the costuming simple. Supporting characters in the show had some colored accents: a green vest, a red beret, a colorful scarf. This mimicked what dance companies often do for their performers with the same result: the viewer’s focus was kept on the dancing. Hernandez and Locklear did well their costume design because they kept the viewers’ focus where it was needed.
Posey also did the set design. He kept things very minimal and simple, focusing on the set artwork to enhance the show. Aside from the artwork, the set consisted of a floor painted to look like a wooden plank floor, much like you’d see in a studio, and an archway leading to a hallway with two exits. There was also simple furniture appropriate to an art studio. An easel held various paintings throughout the night, and a few simple chairs were used for both socializing and some of the dancing. Posey’s focus on simplicity with the set served to both portray Picasso’s studio and keep the focus on the dancing.
Keeping in theme with the set and costuming, the lighting design by Kevin Grammer was simple, yet effective in portraying and highlighting the actors onstage. For more dramatic moments the lights would dim to portray a darker mood. The lighting was also used to help illuminate the different images created by the actors throughout the production. Grammer did very well creating effective simplicity
Portraying the mysterious, incomprehensible man Pablo Picasso was Antonio Arrebola. The key element that I noticed about Arrebola was the amount of focus that he had throughout his dance numbers. His quick footwork was very impressive, and I appreciated the different incorporations of clapping and snapping his fingers that were used throughout. This takes a lot of skill and many years to perfect. He also used different shaping throughout the dance numbers to portray the feel of the flamenco. All of this helped to maintain the aura of mystery and difference that separates Picasso from an average man.
Delilah Buitrón Arrebola played Jacqueline Roque, Picasso’s second wife and our guide through his life. Buitrón Arrebola is a masterful flamenco dancer. She created various shapes with her body while dancing and strong rhythms with her feet. I would have liked a more consistent French accent but appreciated how expressive she was throughout the show. She had a commanding voice and face for the times when she instructed the photographer, then passion for her dancing, and a look of longing when she spoke about her deceased husband. I liked how her expressions guided us through the story.
Frida Espinosa- Müller had the role of Francoise Gilot, one of Picasso’s last lovers. Danielle Bondurant played the part of Mari-Thérèse Walter, the young woman that Picasso had an affair with. Stephanie Cleghorn took the part of the surrealist photographer Dora Maar. Each of the dancers performed in the group numbers, portraying the different images throughout. As dancers they each had strong rhythm and did well staying in sync with each other. While acting, they each did well portraying their character’s internal conflicts and furthering the story of Picasso.
Chris Sykes played David Douglas Duncan, the photographer chosen by Picasso to photograph and catalogue the paintings. Sykes did very well at portraying someone who didn’t know Picasso but wanted to know more. I appreciated how he seemed to hang on to the stories Jacqueline told, clearly showing his curiosity. I also liked how Sykes kept using the camera he had, setting up one painting, readjusting it, and finally photographing it. These actions helped to draw focus to the painting and the story behind it. Georges Braque, Picasso’s friend and colleague, was portrayed by William Acker. He did well with the dancing and imagery. Acker also took the part of a budding artist that greatly admired Picasso’s work. He did well by staring at his painting, poring over the paints he had available, and agonizing over how to adjust his work. Acker delivered his lines clearly and audibly and showed true concern for Picasso’s personal problems.
I thoroughly enjoyed the music and dancing during the performance. The set design was well done, and the imagery created was dynamic and interesting. The heavy use of dancing did make details of the story hard to follow, but that effectively kept Picasso the mysterious genius of the art world.
825 Exposition Ave.
Dallas, TX 75226
Performances run through June 30th
Performance times are Wednesday – Saturday at 8:15 PM & Saturday at 2:30 PM
TICKET PRICES for Picasso: Matador de Málaga
Ticket are $25.
For information and to purchase tickets, go to www.ochrehousetheater.org or call the box office at (214) 826-6273.