Photo © Josep Aznar
El Prinicipi d'Arquimedes
In the third century BCE, Archimedes, a Greek mathematician and engineer invented a precise means of measuring the density of an irregular object. He found that a body immersed in a fluid experiences a upwards force in contra that is equal to the weight of the fluid it displaces. The authority of Archimedes’ Principle as a fact of science remains. Unfortunately, we now live much of our lives in a world not of ‘bodies’ but of virtual bodies, so how do we gauge how dense something is? Or, in other terms, how important it is.
This dilemma kick-starts an excellent contemporary play by Catalan dramatist Josep Maria Miró i Coromina (Vic, 1977). El Principi d’Arquimedes, winner of the Premi Born de Teatre in 2011, can be seen at Barcelona’s Sala Beckett until the end of July.
Set in the staff changing-room of a swimming club for kids, Jordi and Hèctor are two young instructors whose locker-room banter is interrupted by the arrival of its poker-faced manager Anna. She is troubled. An affectionate gesture by Jordi towards a five-year-old boy, a member of the swimming group he teaches, has been attributed the gravity of a serious offence by a concerned group of parents, led by the boy’s father, David. Jordi’s initial disbelief turns to fear and then panic as circumstantial factors are sucked into the rumour, and it takes on a whirlpool-like force.
Under the direction of Miró i Coromina, and just over an hour long in length, the production at Sala Beckett is pacy and profound. Its cyclical structure of overlapping scenes and a set that switches sides, designed by Enric Planas, contribute to a sense of certainty that is continually confounded.
Roser Battala is the lonely Anna who struggles with her own personal traumas to placate worried father David, played with a well-balanced mix of paranoia and exhaustion by Santi Ricart. Perhaps most devastating in the play is the visibly fracturing relationship between the former friends Jordi and Hèctor. Rubén de Eguia is the lippy attention-seeker turned terrified victim, Albert Ausellé is the admirer who abandons him.
Despite its mathematical inspiration, El Principi d’Archimedes is a play that amounts to more than the sum of its parts. Both a study of the evolution of human relationships, where befriending and unfriending take place with casual ease, it also highlights one of the great paradoxes of technology, as a sophisticated tool to further the most primitive of urges.
El Principi d’Archimedes is on at Sala Beckett until July 29th, 2012. Tues – Sat 9.30pm, Sun 6.30pm. The play is in upper intermediate Catalan
Tickets costs €18—click here to buy
This review was first published on Alx's blog: lookingfordrama.com - check it out for more postings about Barcelona arts and culture