28 January 2019 (released)
29 January 2019
Above the din of the lively Latchmere pub in Battersea, in the quiet, cosy confines of the warm and welcoming Theatre 503, Cuzco, a play by Victor Sanchez Rodriguez brings us into the lives of a young couple, a man and woman, denominated only as HE and SHE, at the start of their holiday voyage to the exotic South American destination of Cuzco, a city in the Peruvian Andes which was the historical capital of the Inca empire. Cuzco is now a major tourist destination and they (or at least He) has planned a typical tourist trek through the major sites and attractions.
From the outset, it is clear that their relationship is troubled and those trouble become evident in the dialogue between the two. Their obvious lack of engagement, on both intellectual and emotional level, soon becomes more and more apparent - they are distant physically and in their interests and tastes. HE, played by Gareth Jones, appears to be the one trying to make the relationship work and trying to have fun in a conventional, touristy way.
SHE, a more troubled and introverted soul, performed by Dilek Rose, has interests and attention which seems to lie anywhere but where she is at the moment and SHE seems caught in a slough of apathy and indifference.
The development of the play turns on the dialogue, which is at times poetic and allusive. And the actions that they each take in response to each other. There appears to be an underlying meaning in the idea of travel and its relation to personal change. The underlying issues that trouble the relationship are hinted at, especially in those poetic and allusive portions of the dialogue, but they, and many questions about their relationship, remain obscure.
The very basic set, a bed whose position shifts each time the couple change location, works well as a focus of implied intimacy but actual separation. The play runs for seventy minutes without an intermission, demanding on the actors both of whom provide convincing performances. Translated from the original Spanish into a very idiomatic and natural English by William Gregory, this is a performance which leaves you wanting more, more about HE and SHE, as what we get are hints and inferences and, perhaps, a surprise ending.