Rebota Rebota Que en Tu Cara Explota
Before going to see shows that I am asked to review, I usually avoid reading the descriptions. It is my simplistic attempt to go into a show as a “blank page” (as much as my professional audience hat allows…). But on 7 November, I arrived at Frascati with time to spare, so I read. The topics promised by Rebota Rebota y en Tu Cara Explota by Agnés Mateus and Quim Terrida, hit close to home. Gender violence and, specifically, violence against women are issues I am particularly sensitive to. I went in very curious and slightly anxious.
Agnés Mateus performs herself, brilliantly commanding the stage for the whole 75 minutes of the piece. Entering the stage as a creepy clown with golden leggings, her clumsy dance to a piece of electronic music sets the tone for this sarcastic commentary on some of society’s most latent problems. Casually enumerating one misogynistic joke after another, she dives right into the dirt, with relentless energy. We are confronted with a myriad of examples of our socially accepted forms of discrimination and our passivity towards segregation and sectarian attitudes.
All princesses are saved for the sake of marriage; marriage seems to be the one and only justified outcome for anything involving a man and a woman in a romantic situation. Consent is not addressed in fairy tales. On the contrary: in the original versions, women have no say, some are simply in a coma, allowing the prince to do as he wishes. Thank you Disney for softening the stories while maintaining the sexism, and for trivializing these archetypical constructions of relationships. And if marriage is not among your priorities, or if you are not in distress and in need of being saved by a man, like Elsa from Frozen for instance, then you are automatically homosexual (as Agnés says it herself: “Google it”). Historically important women are very often associated with their husbands, even if just by their last names. And the examples continue and form the soundtrack of this show.
All these facts are interspersed with short contemplative videos displaying inanimate female bodies lying in urban landscapes. The message is clear, perhaps even overly blatant, but hell, why not triple underline it? After all, despite our screaming, women continue to die, we still categorize people and generalize conflicts. We are still numb to violence.
The overall humorous tone of what unfolds on stage co-habits skillfully with the underlying rage the Catalan actress expresses. Progressively, the darkness is given more space. Agnés places herself in physical danger, willingly posing as a target to a knife-throwing game. Again, we are concretely reminded of the bodily stresses we overlook and even integrate in our routine so easily. After she is dowsed by a bucket of glitters she laughs, saying “Contemporary theater will kill us all!”. I cannot help sighing with complicity, transposing that statement to outside the theater walls and context.
In the final scene, set to a list of names of people whose lives were lost because of violent acts, the actress submerges her face in a wheelbarrow full of soil. Like a scared ostrich and transmitting a very tangible feeling of suffocating anxiety, the image paints a clear analogy of society’s cowardice.
Anecdotical and simultaneously empirical, this piece is an injection of consciousness for some, a reminder or a confirmation for others. Approachable, precise and unpretentious, it reminded me that sometimes stating the obvious is the best way to truly initiate or continue, a much needed conversation, hopefully, to continue planting the seeds of awareness and change.
Seen: November 7, Frascati, Amsterdam.
Photo: Quim Tarrida.