The Adventures of the Wet Se?
The play The Adventures of the Wet Señor is based on the true story from 16th century of Spanish captain Francisco De Cuellar, who was washed ashore from the Spanish ship La Lavia on Streedagh Beach in Sligo. It is an unbelievable story of Cuellars travel across Ireland, when he was struggling for survival on his journey from Sligo to Causeway Coast of North Antrim from there to Scotland and from Scotland to Antwerp (which was controlled by Spain at this time). Francisco wrote a very long letter from Antwerp about his experiences in Ireland. Since then, this letter has been an inspiration for many writers, as well as for Donal OKelly who wrote the script for and directed this play which was develop from a 30 minute showcase that was presented for the first time on 15th of December 2009 in the Glens.
The show is produced by Benbo Productions & The Glens Centre. From 8th of October to 20th of November we can see this spectacular production in the theaters all over Ireland (10 & 11 Nov -Town Hall Theatre in Galway, 13 Nov – Mermaid Arts Centre in Bray, 18 Nov – Roscommon Arts Centre, 19 Nov – Riverbank Arts Centre in Newbridge, 20 Nov – Pavilion Theatre in Dun Laoghaire).
Donal OKelly through music – theatre tells the biographical story of the reality of 16th century Ireland. He reminds the audience of Irish and Spanish history, showing one persons battle against the world around him. The tale is about surviving when there is someone waiting to kill you behind every corner. Similar to Homers Odyssey, Francisco De Cuellar, like Odysseus, wants to get back alive to Spain, to his home and to his love – Isabelle. Both of this characters meet a lot of obstacles on their way.
Acting levels are touching in this production. The work of Jaimie Carswell who plays the title character – Francisco De Cuellar is excellent. He changes on the stage from a young, healthy man to a starving, terrified, injured person. There was only one moment in his performance that could be confusing for an audience. Character of De Cuellar hurt his leg during the story. It was clear that his leg was hurt for a while but then it looked like his leg got better. Suddenly his leg was hurt again. It wasnt clear There are only three actors on the stage and they are there for entire play. The two actresses, Carrie Crowley and Sorcha Fox, both play a number of different characters that Francisco meets on his way. They do this without ever leaving the stage and play both male and female characters as well. Its incredible how they manage it without audience even feeling weird that they change gender, personality, nationality and languages. Crowley for the most of the play was really good but occasionally she dropped her energy during her performance but it wasnt a major thing. A few times Dee Armstrong who is a member of Kila also performs on the stage and her performances are memorable, especially the dance with the boat made from a white veil. All the actors use all possible range for their performances. They dance, sing and chant. They use physical theater in an impressive way, they ride horses that arent there, sail boats in stormy weather using only their bodies and become animals. The actors use a number of languages on the stage. Their ability to speak English, Irish, Spanish, French and even Latin is impressive. Actors very easily were switching between those languages, sometimes each actor talked in a different language to each other. It might be difficult to understand for audience but when they were speaking in a foreign language on the white curtain (which I mentioned before) were subtitles with translation. There was great ensemble work. Actors were aware of each other, when they were performing physical aspects, they were completely synchronized. There was a lot of rhythm in the movements and at these times the music which was in background all the time supported the actors work. The performances and the music were linked so closely that at times it felt like the actors were supporting the music not the other way round.
The set was very simple, including a couple of chairs, a barrel and a few tided up sticks, but for this particular production it was perfect. The whole production makes the audience use their imagination, which is great. It gives to the actors an opportunity to show their acting skills without distracting the audience with props. The costumes were also very simple and the actors dont change them. They use the blanket a few times to show changes of costume or character, but its enough to look at the actors faces and their bodies to see the changed character. On the back of the stage was a translucent white curtain and above it for most of the play were a set of blue lights which gave the audience a view of the members of Kila (Dee Armstrong, Rossa Ó Snodaigh, Colm Ó Snodaigh and Seanán Brennan). Electrifying, live music accompanied the play all the way from the beginning until the end. Music was suitable to every situation on the story and helped to raise even more the emotional level of the performance. Because of the music the whole play was very rhythmical. Again set of light was very simple beside the