EdFringe 2022 Review: Marrano, a Tale from the Inquisition

For two nights only LaPercha Teatro brought Marrano, a Tale from the Inquisition to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Taking place at the atmospheric St Andrew’s and St George’s West Church on George Street, LaPercha Teatro brought a spectacle of music, theatrical ingenuity and passion to this tale of the persecution of the Spanish Jewish community in the 15th Century.

A marrano was a term in Medieval Spain to describe someone converting from Judaism to Christianity to avoid persecution and this is a label that fits Uriel, our central character. The son of Jewish shoemaker, Uriel (Christian name Diego de Sevilla) is forced to flee from his home town in Seville after atrocities committed to the city’s Jewish community. Building a new life for himself in Zaragoza, Uriel finds his safety still compromised by the arrival of the Spanish Inquisition and their desire to inspire hatred towards the marrano.

The setting of 1485 may immediate conjure up a sense of inaccessibility to the 21st Century audience – yet LaPercha Teatro craft a vibrant piece that manages to depict a clear sense of the religious and political situation in its historical setting for any contemporary viewer. With a message that transcends its time period, Marrano is a plea for tolerance and acceptance of one another’s differences – in this case religious expression – but this serves as a biting parable that can be applied to all forms of equality and acceptance.

The seventy minute duration of Marrano breezes by in a flash, with the cast of five drawing us into this rich historical piece with a sense of creative urgency. The cast showcase a truly inventive use of props on stage – stools doubling as saloon doors or battering rams, costumes and red cloth taking uses from the ceremonial to the primal – red cloths effectively utilised for fire and blood. Sounds are created on stage by the cast, fully immersing us in the setting and showcasing an inventive realised creative vision. Performers create the crackling of the fire, the thud of a hammer hitting a nail, the door slamming, and the wind from the street. It’s truly fascinating to watch any of the cast at any given moment during Marrano, each member of LaPercha Teatro contributing to the innovative environment.

The cast manage to convey a historical tale with a freshness and emotional conviction that resonates with contemporary audiences – which is no easy feat. Rachel Uceda, Idan Yecheli, Alex Castineiras, Paul Bald and Maria Peluzzo take multiple roles with ease, each embodying these with smart shifts in posture, accent or costume, thus having the effect of a huge theatre company.

Further conviction is brought to Marrano through inventive use of Sephardic melodies and Hebrew prayers, helping reiterate the production’s call for tolerance. To many audiences, the story of the marrano community will be a new one and LaPercha Teatro explore it with an accessibility yet do not sacrifice depth or insight in doing so.

Marrano, a Tale from the Inquisition‘s innovative construction and delivery, paired with versatile performances from the impressive cast make it one of the surprise treats of the Fringe this year.

For details about LaPercha Teatro and Marrano, check here.

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