“This is a show targeted at the youngest of audiences (babies and toddlers aged 1 to 4 years, according to the programme) which enchanted not only the little ones but also – and above all – the adults present at the performance in the small rehearsal room next to the main theatre at the TOPIC.
Performed by Sevillian actress Ana María Montero, written by Elisa Vargas and Jokin Oregi, with technical and set design from Iker Pérez, and directed by Jokin Oregi, Pequeña Max turned out to be a real gem that took its audience by surprise. Using very simple objects (that were actually simple in appearance only, of course, since the work fulfils the principle that says that achieving simplicity involves a huge amount of very complex work behind the scenes), and acting that also has a minimalist register, sustained by the “veracity” of the character and the efforts of the actor playing the role, Arena en los Bolsillos has created a work that explores essential themes: how the poetic affirmation of difference (the character of Max, deformed with a flipper-shaped foot much longer than the other) allows the unfolding of a self that is able to open new inner worlds and enjoy life through freedom and the joy of creation.
In other words, difference (and the solitude that comes with it) paves the way for the puppet, the essential practice of accessing inner worlds, poetry, and creativity. And this is achieved through a very simple staging that restricts itself to the elements of the scenery itself, but is nevertheless full of surprises, hidden nooks and crannies, magic boxes that the actor opens during her performance. Her rendering of Max is flawless, without a trace of sentimentalism or whimsy – which is vital if this type of theatre is to avoid putting off the grown-ups. A difficult job framed in a small space and rendered in a strict choreography that is pared down to the essentials: every movement, every gesture is justified by the corresponding sequence in the puppetry. This creates a tension in the performer, who is obliged to live what she is performing, without wasting time or energy, all of which are focused entirely on the action.
The result is a first-rate work of puppetry and performance which, from its premise of drawing in the youngest of children, ends up enchanting an entire audience, young and old, to the delight of all present.”
(Toni Rumbau is a puppeteer, writer and founder of the historic Barcelona theatre company La Fanfarra (1976), the Teatro Malic (1984-2002) and the Festival de Ópera de Bolsillo y Nuevas Creaciones (1993)).