Corruptia, a very very familiar ‘region of the east’

When truth is stranger than fiction the latter tends to satirize the former. And when a play intended to denounce an unbeatable and muddy reality as the rampant corruption that took over among the political class in Spain long time ago as, for example, the Gürtel case recently revealed to the public opinion, farce is the best way… and the more acidic the better.

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Mad and caustic, Corrüptia: una regió de l’est (Corruptia, a Region of The East), amuses the public with its simplicity and ease, while leaves no stone cold when ridiculing a number of grotesque characters that are nothing but the paradigm of political corruption.

With a simplistic and minimalist approach and scenery, and a handful of actors who appear successively in one single stage (initially an office in a political party’s headquarters which is transformed, depending on the situation, into a lobby, a hall or a golf camp, for example) Corruptia tells the story of President Frank, number two and young talent in the regional branch of a national political party that governs the indeterminate and so called “Region of the East”, and who ends up being turned into the scapegoats by his own peers when a huge corruption scandal in which all them are involved is unraveled.
Narrated in extreme res, this Frank remembers, confidently in front of a foreign journalist, the story of his rise and fall within the party, his murky relations with an important local entrepreneur, his ups and downs with the leader of his own party, his intrigues with his personal adviser or his submission to a powerful local chieftain, while other characters appear eventually filling the gaps of the story, as the leader of the opposition, the general secretary, other members of the party or journalists.

The play uses video projections, flashbacks, speeches, alleged telephone conversations and video conferences, debates in parliament, songs with their own soundtrack, always alternating between the use of Catalan and Spanish depending on the situation in a continuous parade of characters in crescendo that goes steadily and in a fast pace until reaching a suggestive and attractive ending.

Played by the actors of L’Enjòlit; Elies Barbera, Albert Alemany, Jenny Beacraft, Marin and Marta Arnau Montiel, and directed by Carles Fernández Giua, it doubtless respects the spirit the theater group claims on their website, where they emphasizes their intention to address social issues in key of acid humor with this sentence: “we will put salt on the wound, and we will bite if necessary”.

In this work, of course, any resemblance to reality is purely coincidental, but seeing it is not so hard to imagine where its author, the journalist Josep Lluís Fitó, got the inspiration from. Specially (and sadly too) if you are Spanish, and even more if you inhabit any of those “regions of the east” (as Valencia) where the PP traditionally governed, and where corruption cases, as the Gürtel among many others, recently abounded. Is it? Just take a look then at the main character, the so called Frank, to see how similar his life and his situation is to the infamous Barcenas, the scapegoat of the PP in real life regarding the Gürtel. Is it yet? Then we just have to see how others did not apparently see just coincidences on this play, especially if we take a look into the long history of refusals he got when he tried to represent it in the Valencian town of Xativa, for example (on the east of Spain), governed by the PP and from which Fitó himself comes from.
But in times of political scandals theater is the way many choose to do satire from politics. Some time ago, in times of the almighty Jose Maria Aznar, when the entire country was going to a war in Iraq almost nobody wanted just by the desires of one single man, the writers Juan Mayorga and Juan Cavestany gave birth to an even more explicit play for the famous theater group Animalario called Alejandro y Ana: lo que España no pudo ver del Banquete de la Boda de la Hija del Presidente (Alejandro and Ana, What The Country could not see at the Presidet’s Daughter Wedding Banquet). Heavy weights like Roberto Álamo, Javier Gutiérrez, Guillermo Toledo and Alberto San Juan enlisted to tell a fictional story which allows us to take an imaginative look into the banquet of the president Aznar’s daughter (Ana) wedding (with Alejandro Agag), celebrated in El Escorial in 2002, an event that, except for the press (it was zealously kept in private), gathered some of the most powerful and influential personalities of that time.
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Through a shocking staging in which public is sitting directly on the stage as if they were guest in the wedding and the actors walk and act among them, sometimes even interacting with them, none of those main persona who actually atended the wedding are directly portrayed in the play, nor the president, the ministers, the bankers or even the fiances, because the story dodges them and focuses on all those anonymous characters who may have been there that day too, from bodyguards and cooks to maids, chauffeurs, entrepreneurs, second-rate politicians, businessmen, opportunists and many other, in order to bring us an alleged and sharp portrait of the nature, thinkingmechanisms of power, relations and idiosyncrasy of an elite tilted to the right, conservatism, ultraliberalism and even militarism.
Maybe somebody could hear here echoes from the Spanish picaresque of the XVI and XVII Golden Age… it looks like things did not change that much after all since then.
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