Virgilio Pinera, claimed as the "Cuban Ionesco", takes the absurd to the ridiculous with comic results as the star-crossed lovers deconstruct their relationship after Alberto's (Darren Strange) admission to his friend Luis (Colin Michael Carmichael) that his beloved Flora (Christine Entwistle) has drooping breasts.
There follows fast and furious dialogue as Flora taunts a distraught Alberto who doesn't know whether she witnessed his indiscretion but finally she calls off the wedding.
The pedantic Alberto is loath to leave it there, nor to attempt to win back his beloved, and instead embarks on a thorough trial of the facts leading to the ‘unmarriage’, a consideration of a scenario in which the roles are reversed, an inquest into the death of their engagement and, to make absolutely sure, a cremation and annulment.
Although the two still love one another, the pursuit of the logic to the absurd kills stone dead any possible resurrection and the scattering of the ashes is the final nail in the coffin of this romance.
Superbly translated - for the first time, by Kate Eaton, Emma Bernard's direction squeezes every drop of comedy from the lively script. That it is set in Cuba some 50 years ago does not compromise its freshness or wit - in fact without reading the programme it would not be apparent at all although Pinera insists that his drama is Cuban through and through. Perhaps instead it is the universal human condition to mask wounded pride with extreme illogicality - even if it ultimately destroys that which is most cherished.
Colin Michael Carmichael is wonderfully droll as the bourgeois Luis, only really interested in himself, women and how best to cut a dash during the cha cha cha, while Brigid Zengeni is flighty to the nth degree as Julia staunchly backing her friend Flora one moment but the next finding her friend's dilemma and anguish less important than identifying true salmon pink.
Darren Strange convinces as dogmatic Alberto insisting on the proper deconstruction and is tremendously comic as the nerve-wracked groom but it is Christine Entwisle who stole the show with faultless comic timing and hilarious facial expressions.
With subtle but clever choreography played out on Simon Plumridge's simple but elegant set, the no-interval hour and half passes all too swiftly.
- Karen Bussell (reviewed at Plymouth's Theatre Royal)