The Mayor Of Zalamea

Written by Pedro Calderon de la Barca, directed by Gemma Bodinetz
Liverpool Everyman, 13 Feb - 6 March 2004

Reviewed by Adam Ford

This is a play that has just about everything. There are laughs. There are swordfights. And there are thought-provoking explorations of themes such as justice, power and revenge.

The tale focuses on the relationship between gentle patriarch Pedro Crespo (Michael Byrne) and his daughter Isabel (Chipo Chung), whose beauty enchants nearly all who see her. This captivating power poses a bit of a problem, because it sparks most of those swordfights, but also most of the comedy as a multitude of men battle it out for her affections. The action comes from all sides, making full use of the Everyman's open stage, and involves the audience brilliantly. However, just before the break, the tale takes an about-turn as the repulsive Captain Alvaro (Paul Bhattacharjee) tires of mind games and brutally takes matters into his own hands. Unfortunately for him, a new mayor is about to be elected, and is keen to make his mark...

Adapted as it is from seventeenth century Spanish, the script is occasionally jarring and there is the odd forced rhyme. But Adrian Mitchell also uses some vivid imagery and lyrical prose in his translation, and deserves praise for his efforts. In her first production since becoming Artistic Director of the Everyman/Playhouse, Gemma Bodinetz draws strong performances from her cast. Richard Bremmer is wonderful as the eccentric Don Lope, and James Wallace plays puffed-up nobleman Don Mendo with a great sense of comedic observation. The future looks bright for the Everyman.