Whereas "Chronicle of a Death Foretold" is an interesting novella and a noteworthy experiment in the works of Garcia Marquez it is not, to my mind, of the caliber of his finest achievements. It is an exercise in storytelling around the parable of a woman's shame and the frenzied violence that the account of her deflowerment whips up in a small, rural town long ago someplace to the south.
What makes it most compelling, much in the same way of Perez Reverte's riveting "Queen of the South", is its attempt to meld storytelling with straightforward reporting, weaving details of a newspaper crime feature with the persistence, artistry and imagination of a fiction writer. It is as if Marquez were experimenting with the idiom, melding his reporter's acumen with his novelistic instincts, attempting to fuse the elements that drove him his entire life -newspaper reporting and novel writing.
In much the same manner, the stage play of "Chronicle..." is that similar experimental mixture of staging, storytelling and obituary. In this case, the fine adaptation by Jorge Ali Triana is, in many ways, more satisfying in the theatre than as a story. Director Jose Zayas has viewed the action as a whirlwind of passion, bitterness, anger and savagery. The cast of 15 actors weave in and out of the play which lasts barely an hour and flows like a slow motion nightmare. Each member of the cast performs as many as 3 parts and the dirge like Greek chorus adds an element of eeriness and tragedy. At times it reminded me of the epic Garcia Lorca poem, "Lament for Ignacio Sanchez Mejia" the bullfighter which repeats over and over the time of his death throughout the poem. In 'Chronicle...' the repetition begins with the first line of the story; "On the day they were going to kill him Santiago Nasar got up at 5:30 in the morning". With that introduction you pretty much know what's going to happen next.
GALA Theatre has once again achieved a level of excellence, a seasoned professionalism and top flight performances in this production, coupled with the Garcia Marquez brand that makes this an inevitable hit and likely to play before sold out audiences for its entire four week run. I was particularly struck by the remarkable set designed by Elizabeth Jenkins McFadden which serves as a village square surrounded by four animal sheds which also serve as bedrooms, kitchens, cafes and most surprisingly a prison and confessional booth at the same time. A masterful use of the theatre's stage space. A butcher shop - in which a bloody carcass hangs - dominates the stage. At the center is a small corral, which reminded me throughout of a cock fighting ring, in which the murder ultimately happens. Along with the inevitable dance with death that occurs in the ring it also celebrates the most sensual and erotic moment of the performance, the depiction of the supposed loss of virginity.
Let me not spoil what is already a story foretold for those of us who love the Marquez legacy. We know how the story ends, but what is most striking is to see the blending of these multiple talents, the author of the adaptation, the Director and a fine cast of characters that begins with the doomed protagonist Santiago Nasar, ably performed by Nicolás Carrá, and an ensemble in which two of my favorite actors from the GALA repertory; Lorena Sabrogal and Carlos Castillo perform admirably.
Go see it! You'll enjoy the artistry as well as the poetry and it's an 'hojarasca', a brief gale force wind that will sweep you off your feet and leave you sated. You can find more information about the play and ticket sales on their website http://www.galatheatre.org/