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Raymond Carver (1939-1988) is the great American narrator of everyday life. In the nineties he became fashionable in Spain thanks to the publication of his stories. But I think that Robert Altman contributed a great deal to spread it, took to the cinema several of his fictions in Short Cuts (cross livess), a movie with an overwhelming cast of great actors, who synthesized his style and the stories that inspired him. Carver made beauty out of the vulgar.

Until now it had never been taken to the theater in our country, to my knowledge. Now the Canal Theaters have just released Beginners, a stage adaptation of different stories by the author whose main attraction is Javier Gutierrez, an extraordinary actor whom we can see in choppy dialogues with his co-stars, as an inspired monologuist, in violent situations and also very content.

Vicky Luengo, Javier Gutiérrez and Daniel Pérez Prada. Photo: Pablo Llorca

There are plays that deal with what the characters feel, if they are happy, anguished, in love…no great things happen, the situations change little and they suffer dramatically as in Beginners. Perhaps it is that I lost interest in what is said in the dialogues. The play unfolds around a great cogorza, which is caught by two friendly couples who have arranged to go to dinner and who, as in Esperando to Godot, they spend the whole night saying that they have the last drink before leaving for the restaurant (so it is easy to deduce that they will not finish there). On stage, the married couple formed by Javier Gutiérrez and Mónica Regueiro, already bored of seeing each other’s faces and that they exhausted the elixirs of love a long time ago and are balancing their relationship; the other coupleDaniel Perez Prada Y Vicky Luengo– younger, just over a year old and their hearts are still beating.

John Cavestany signs the theatrical adaptation of some stories contained in the author’s anthology What do we talk about when we talk about love. Drunkenness is a circumstance that allows Cavestany to dramatically introduce Carver’s fictions in the form of dialogues or monologues: from the drunken family man we jump to the woman in love with her first husband who abused her, there is also a cardiologist who knows little about of the heart… The most lyrical and powerful of the entire show is the story of the marriage that has been sharing a lifetime and only an accident separates them, it gives Gutiérrez the opportunity to offer an emotional and lyrical monologue, underlined by a staging in which the director Andrés Lima has taken great care.

Javier Gutiérrez in one of the monologues of the play.  Photo: Pablo Llorente

Javier Gutiérrez in one of the monologues of the play. Photo: Pablo Llorente

Lima sits on a scenic device (Beatrice San Juan) that projects images of landscapes on the large window that presides over the room where the four characters are. The lighting changes (Valentin Alvarez) together with the light of the images mark the passage of time and place us in the America of the deserts or in that of the humid and snowy forests, depending on how things happen. The sound and musical device is also careful, the director frames the show in a mysterious and enigmatic music, and also resorts to a playlist (Joe Cocker, Deep Purple, Radiohead…) to underline scene changes.

beginners it is a romantic work if we think that everything revolves around love and how it transforms and transforms us, but the production scheme based on the incarnation of a text, underlined by a soundtrack and a set design with projections, brought me to memory an old show from Lima, From Berlin, tribute to Lou Reed, with a sordid theme (the tragic relationship of a couple hooked on heroin) and inspired by the famous album by the New York singer.

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