New York — There’s a little bit of Dallas flavor in the New York City theater scene right now with staging The Ochre House’s Perro Y Sangre, written and directed by Matt Posey with choreography by Antonio Arrebola and Delilah Butrón, at Teatro Latea in the Lower East Side.
For the past six years, the Ochre House has hosted the Dallas Flamenco Festival. This project is born of that experience. (It premiered in Dallas in 2012.)
It places Ernest Hemingway (Christian Taylor) and his wife Hadley Richardson (Tasia N. Munoz) in a remote Spanish village after their car runs out of gas. The door they knock on for help happens to be that of Antonio (Arrebola), infamously known as El Matón, and his wife Triana (Delilah Muse). Hemingway has heard of Antonio and how he ran off all the towns people, leaving the village to populated by thieves and assorted other criminal elements. He tries to get himself and Hadley out of there. But Antonio and Triana tell their story, which is more complex than something drunkenly shared in a random bar.
What sets this show apart is the fact that it’s infused with flamenco dancing from start to finish. Opening with an energetic, percussive dance, the energy level is set high and never wavers. Dialog is often embellished or totally replaced by the enthralling, kinetic dancing of the cast.
Flamenco is exciting to watch. The movements are artful, placing significant importance on hitting certain poses, but is contrasted with the stomps of the feet, the racing heartbeats of the show.
The primary dancing responsibilities fall to Arrebola and Muse. They are accompanied by a Cantaor, José Cortés Fernandez and Guitarrista José Vega Jurado. The combination of the two musicians and two dancers is entrancing, a marvel of both artistry and skill. Like the dancing, the guitar is played in a specific way that is highly technical, yet relies on drum like concussive strums. The singing is a wandering, earnest voice, wrenching every ounce of emotion from the soul. It’s all so visceral and authentic and captivating.
El Matón is aided by his big, black dog, a striking puppet manipulated by Justin Locklear and Mitchell Parrack. The dog is constructed in a style similar to Handspring Puppet Company’s puppets for War Horse, trading realistic looks for realistic movement in an effect that is ultimately much better that if it were the opposite.
This is an exciting venture for Posey and Ochre House. Teatro Latea is an absolute perfect venue; an outstanding space. And for those of us who have enjoyed Posey’s work over the years, it’s a great feeling to know he’s getting the opportunity to take it on the road. Hopefully, there are more to come. This show is easily one of Dallas’ best shows of the last few years. For anyone who happens to be in New York, you have a couple more days to check it out. So, go. You’ll leave the theater energized and excited.