"O Relógio" = The Clock
Is there a way to objectively know what an art object is all about? Be it a book, an opera, a painting, a book, a poem, or a play? At least not in my mind.
There are times when my mind conjures up things that aren’t there at all and there are times when I miss things that are definitely there. I can just try to grasp that indefinable feeling of "getting it". In this case, what "O Relógio" meant to me, what it felt like for me to be there and the effect it had on me, are something I'm still not prepared to talk about. I'm still thinking about it. I'm not even using the alibi of having read the book on which it was based on, because I haven't read it, and I don't plan on doing so, in case it destroys what I've just seen (instead I'll just read Samuel's Pimenta's other books).
I went to see this play with my eyes completely closed, i.e., I didn't have any kind of expectations on what I was about to watch. At the end of it, what was the play about? As a once regular theatregoer (now not so much due to my personal life), it's quite wonderful not to worry my pretty little head on working out exactly what the play was all about. I just let it flow.
That's also one of the reasons for loving to see Shakespeare performed on stage. At the best of times, even when I know the story inside out, as I always do, Shakespeare is at times extraordinarily abstract. Should we stop watching it? Nope. Theatre, when done right, has a unique capacity to bonk you in the head, heart and other innards all at once. There are some forms of theatre that are more difficult to relate to without a textual medium to be used as a crutch. When along comes a play where the content rather than the visceral experience is not as important, I just enjoy it to the fullest of my abilities and stay silent to enjoy the silences in the play.
Visually, the play works wonders. Light (or lack thereof) served to organize the various structural changes that underlay the performance. As in a Beckett play, where the beginnings and ends of plays derive from the intensity of light, or rather the variation between light and darkness, Vicente Morais' and Paulo Vaz's stage direction emphasized the juxtaposition between light and darkness. The effect was mesmerizing. If it were possible to "watch" this play without sound, I'd say I was watching a play from the Hammer Film Studios, where Paulo Vaz would be a Peter Cushing doppelganger. The fading-up and fading-out of the actor in terms of light and, shadow, and darkness, for me, visually, and in terms of (trying) to interpret the play, represented the focal points of dramatization against the spatially notions of presence and absence.
I don't know whether the intention of inserting a Beckett's play extract at the beginning and at the end of the play and the juxtaposition of light and darkness was an intentional move on the part of stage director and actor, but it worked like a charm.
Things I noticed. Once again the silence/pauses between lines of text is done masterfully and beautifully.
As in a Pinter play, we get to enjoy more, because what's beneath the text is more important than what I can see and hear. There were some parts in the play where I just wanted to close my eyes (I couldn't unfortunately) and "listen" to what was beating underneath. Without a full and well-done articulated pause/silence, I wouldn't have a certain amount of time, during which I could ponder on a single given utterance (be it text, or a pause) to the exclusion of anything else. I was able to do it. That's why the "Überschreitung" between the performer, Paulo Vaz, the stage, and me, as I said above, was achieved beautifully.
Theatre, much more than film, it's all in the hands of the stage director and the actor giving voice to the part.
I was not familiar with Samuel Pimenta's work. It bears digging deeper into (unfortunately the site is only available in Portuguese) ...
NB: Stage Director, Vicente Morais; Monologue, Paulo Vaz (literary persona Álvaro Cordeiro), based on a book by Samuel Pimenta at Sociedade Guilherme Cossoul.