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Review: CASA Festival – Moonlight, at Arcola theatre

24 July, 2019 — By Leo Garib

Anna Alvarez, Wu Hsing-Ya and Akshay Sharma in rehearsals for Moonlight

WHAT do most of us know about Argentina and Chile? Depressingly little considering Britain had such cosy relations with dictators in both, then allied with Chile against Argentina in the 1983 Falklands Islands – or Malvinas – war, which killed more than 1,000.

Among his many documented crimes, Margaret Thatcher’s favourite Latin leader, Chile’s dictator General Augusto Pinochet, oversaw a brutal persecution of the indigenous Mapuche people.

The two-million-strong Mapuche, who live mostly in Chile but also in western Argentina, have been fighting since the Spanish conquistadores for equal rights, and against land appropriation and poverty.

This week, they are the subject of a brilliantly original dance-theatre production, a highlight of the CASA Festival of Latin American theatre and dance.

Based on the Mapuche celebration of moonlight (ch’lsi in the Mapuche language) and ceremony, the Anglo-Latino production Moonlight (Ch’lsi) is a bewitching mix of traditional and modern dance.

Three Mapuche are first seduced by a mischievous rain god then rescued by him from the depredations of city life where – like many displaced Mapuche – they are reduced to begging.

The four dancers – Anna Alvarez, Wu Hsing-Ya, Akshay Sharma and Sharin Johry – bring their Latin and Asian roots to the stage with remarkable performances. The pick of the bunch is Johry as the satyr-like rain god. The music, a cocktail of indigenous fusion and trance, is as central to the narrative as a ballet score.

Choreographed and devised by Brighton-based, Argentinian-Brazilian Alvarez, Moonlight (Ch’lsi) is one of CASA’s top offerings this year and will go on to even greater successes.

The CASA Festival continues until July 27 at the Arcola theatre, Dalston, the Rich Mix, Shoreditch, and Rio cinema, Dalston.

• Moonlight was at the Arcola theatre, Dalston.
The CASA Festival ends on July 27 www.casafestival.org.uk
Arcola Theatre 020 7503 1646

 

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