Writer: Pablo Manzi
Translator: William Gregory
Director: Sam Pritchard
A Fight Against is a pilgrimage across the Americas exploring how communities are affected by, and cope with, violence. Developed while on a residency at the Royal Court, Chilean Pablo Manzi’s darkly comic script has been translated to mark his English language debut.
The show consists of five separate scenes, each set in a different place and time, rooted in a situation that explores how we cope under extreme circumstances. It’s often said that laughter is a coping mechanism, and this is something Manzi pushes as far as he can, often to terrific effect.
The opening scene in particular is a wonderful example of his comedy at work. Quick-fire dialogue delivered with impeccable timing renders what would otherwise be a horrific story, hilarious.
The show is also excellent at taking settings which, while not violent in themselves, exist to cause or control it. Like the border guards in scene three, it flirts on the edge of darkness but never strays beyond.
There are moments where really rather intense acts of violence are explored, but they never overwhelm, largely due to the comedy undertones beneath the delivery, but perhaps also to serve as a reminder of just how de-sensitised it’s possible to become given the right presentation.
Directed by Sam Pritchard, one of the Royal Court’s International Associates, there’s a pace and energy to the piece that ensures the comedy never falls flat. The transitions between scenes at times feel a little forced and unnecessary though, and while they piece together to form a story eventually, on balance the show would be better served without them.
The majority of the six-strong cast play a number of different roles throughout the show. There isn’t a weak link among them, with each fully embracing the style and voice of the show throughout. In particular, Joseph Balderrama and Jimena Larraguivel are flawlessly funny throughout, entirely believable and at times thrilling to watch.
The set design itself is simple, but effective with the backgrounds of most scenes pre-set and only the odd chair or table needed to complete the look. The same goes for lighting and sound, the later of which only features in scene transitions.
On the whole it is a very entertaining and funny observation of how humans cope with violence, and well worth a watch.
Runs until 22 January 2022