Mill Quitientos Metros Sobre El Nivel De Jack

Keith Gallasch

Mil Quintientos Metros Sobre El Nivel De Jack (155 metres above the level of Jack)

Lights on! A man, holding an aged woman to him falls backwards into a bathtub with a mighty splash. If that’s not surprising enough, he’s dressed in black underwater swimming gear, goggles and all. The surtitles above the grubby tiles of the bathroom are as lateral as this Spanish language Argentinian play’s opening image, but we’re soon piecing together an abrupt but fascinating tale of a wife and her son grieving for a drowned husband. Instead of abhorring murderous water they have taken to it, a sublime act of death-wishing identification perhaps. Whatever, the bathroom is central to their lives, especially the mother. It’s also where they socialise. The son brings his reticent girlfriend and her neurotic teenage son (traumatised by his father’s abandoning exit on a ship) to visit. Before long they are all wedged into the tub (the boy horrified, resisting but finally accomodating), a situation whose grievous totality cannot prevail, as if the absurdity of it all has freed them. The 2 sons exit as if bonded as new father and son. The incisive brevity of scenes, a certain lack of affect in the playing alongside sudden outbursts and reveries, and a refusal to explain, make for as nice a companion piece to Beckett’s Endgame as anything I’ve seen about the inability to move on, and a tad more literal, and hopeful. (Wasn’t the Wilson-Glass version of that play to be staged in water?)

Mil Quintientos Metros Sobre El Nivel De Jack, written and directed by Frederico Leon, a co-production with the Teatro San Martin; Black Box, Victorian Arts Centre, Oct 25-Nov 2

RealTime issue #52 Dec-Jan 2002 pg. 6

© Keith Gallasch; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 December 2002