Deseo explores carnal desire
and sublimated love
First-time director Ximena Ferrer presents an original and daring collection of short plays
By Faith Langston
September 28, 2023
The Singulier Pluriel production Deseo – desire in Spanish – is a creation of director Ximena Ferrer. It is loosely based on a film of the same name, which in turn, was inspired by Arthur Schnizler‘s play Reigen Zehn Dialogue (1896-1897). Schizler’s controversial work explored the universal themes of carnal desire and sublimated love, subjects dealt with in the four short plays selected by Ferrer.
This is no ordinary production. Upon arrival at Maison Fullum, we were ushered into a room at the back of the house and told we are about to view four different 15-minute plays: Ascendente, Les demoiselles qui rushent fort, Je ne connais personne qui regarde du porn and Phèdre au-dessous des ruines.
Schizler’s controversial work explored the universal themes of carnal desire and sublimated love, subjects dealt with in the four short plays selected by Ferrer.
We are going to visit a brothel! No worries about STDs, however. We will only come into contact with the issues surrounding sex – love, eros, desire, disappointment, femininity. Though the plays have common themes, they are not interrelated.
To add to the real-life ambience of the performance, the audience sits in close proximity to the actors. We are instructed not to applaud. Viewers must displace themselves. Each play takes place in a different room. In the last scene of the play, we will return to our point of departure. These stories will finally be brought together in something that resembles an explosion.
Thanks to fine acting, the plays in Deseo get the good treatment they are worthy of. Ascendente, written by Camila Forteza (Québec-Argentina), depicts a young woman’s effort to cast off her naive, childish self and find her eros or sexual energy. Actress Stéphanie Dumonte gives a heartfelt and convincing performance to this challenging script.
Les demoiselles qui rushent fort, written by Julie Vincent, springs to life in the hands of Alexandrine Agostini and Josée Rivard. It concerns the illusions, lies and rivalries of two former actors in the process of preparing for a performance that will never happen.
A tragicomic piece by Marianella Morena, Phèdre au-dessous des ruines compliments this little collection of plays. With accomplished ease, Jaqueline van de Geer gives voice to the range of emotions surrounding love: infatuation, obsession, hate and despair. Jimena Marquez’s excellent monologue Je ne connais personne qui regarde du porn is sensitively performed by Catalina Pop in a play that examines the emotional connection between theatrical performance and reality.
‘… director Ximena Ferrer and assistant director Lesly Velazquez deserve our congratulations… they have created a memorable and, it must be said, audacious play.’
Director Ferrer tells us the Spanish concept of microteatro, which has become popular in Latin America, has influenced her work. We are given what she calls “a shot of theatre,” highly charged emotions removed from the logistics of the plot. Added to the Latin American influences in Deseo, is an accent on physicality. As Ferrier sees it, the actor’s tool is her body, which transforms through the development of the character. The director credits teachers in South America as well as the numerous dance troupes in Brazil and Argentina, for this emphasis on movement.
First-time director Ximena Ferrer and assistant director Lesly Velazquez deserve our congratulations. Together with the actors, set designers Catherine Le Gall and Rodolphe St-Arneault, and costumes furnished by Sahdia Dayemethe, they have created a memorable and, it must be said, audacious play.
Deseo runs until September 30, 2023.
Images: courtesy of Singulier Pluriel