Pasiones: The songs of the spanish civil war 1936-1939, Rhino in Winter festival, at the Lunar Cabaret and Full Moon Cafe. It was possibly the most romanticized war since the Crusades, effusively celebrated by countless artists–Picasso, Hemingway, Federico Garcia Lorca. Nowadays the brief, idealistic Spanish Civil War is remembered more for these artists’ images of martial glory than for its historic significance. This play continues the myth with a program of words and music in praise of the volunteers from 57 countries who joined the good fight against fascism.
In keeping with that international spirit, this compact show features songs in several languages, from the fiery, flamenco-style “Viva la Quince Brigada” to the icy irony of “Song of the United Front” (lyrics by Bertolt Brecht) to the delicate poignancy of the Yiddish lullaby “Rozhinkes mit Mandlen.” Michael Smith and Jamie O’Reilly–Smith’s voice like finely ground gravel, O’Reilly’s like a gentle rain–embrace the difficult Andalusian rhythms and Moorish halftones with unyielding conviction and limitless gemutlichkeit. They’re assisted by Katrina O’Reilly, who provides piano and clarinet accompaniment and soft alto harmony; director Peter Glazer keeps the mood and tempo varied and fresh.
Our times encourage a cynical attitude toward war and a suspicion of propaganda, but you may find yourself wanting to rush out and enlist after this show. It’s OK–the war’s over, and it’s only art. –Mary Shen Barnidge