The Bridge of San Luis Rey
with Slava Grigoryan and Manus Noble
The Space Theatre Wednesday 14 July 2021
Until 23 July 2021
Words – Geoff Jenke
Pictures – Chris Herzfeld
Based on the 20th century novel by Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey tells the story of five interrelated people who die in the collapse of an Incan rope bridge in Peru. This Adelaide-based reimagining of the story adapted for the stage by Philip Kavanagh and directed by Chris Drummond.
The incomparable Paul Capis inhabits the role of Camila Perichole, the greatest actress of her age, while telling the story of the five people who will be lost in the bridge disaster. Joining Capis on stage are acclaimed Australian guitarist Slava Grigoryan and Irish guitarist Manus Noble, providing more than just a soundtrack to the story, infusing their music into the story and transporting us across oceans and time.
The show commences with a dark stage and as the curtains open, we see Paul channeling the role of Camila, with the two-guitarist providing a somber sound. Paul has a book of the story in his hands and while it probably contained the script to the show, he rarely used it. The first three parts were stories of the interwoven characters and how they all ended up at the bridge of the day of collapse.
Paul was the central focal point of the evening as he sang, talked, yelled and narrated his way through the story to its chilling conclusion. The two guitarists music was excellent but were often over powered by Paul. For a Guitar Festival show, this one was more about the story than the music and maybe better placed in a Cabaret or Adelaide Festival show. A brave move presenting it in The Guitar Festival but a move that worked.
The Bridge of San Luis Rey was a mesmerising, haunting show and Paul had the audience in the palm of his hand for the 90 minutes he was on stage.