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Theatre review: Eldorado at the Arcola

PUBLISHED: 13:27 10 April 2014 | UPDATED: 13:28 10 April 2014

Eldorado by Marius von Mayenburg, translated by Maja Zade. Dress Rehearsal Photography.
March 26th 2014.
Picture by Zute Lightfoot

Eldorado by Marius von Mayenburg, translated by Maja Zade. Dress Rehearsal Photography. March 26th 2014. Picture by Zute Lightfoot

© Zute Lightfoot Photography

El Dorado is known as the mythical lost South American city where it was rumoured that the streets were paved with gold. Marius von Mayenburg’s El Dorado is a city torn apart by bombs and ready to be pillaged.

An investor’s dream, this city of greed offers unique historic prospects to those brave enough to take the risks. As the smoke rises from another city saved by coalition bombs, there’s a fortune to be made rebuilding the wreckage.

The new inhabitants of the city are aspirational by nature and aiming for success. On the face of it Anton has got it made, with a dream house, beautiful musician wife and a baby on the way. But all is not what it seems – we see Anton forging his boss’s signature and keeping secrets from his family with ever more deception. And his wife, desperate to escape her pianist career, tries to crush her hands under the piano lid. Meanwhile a wealthy widow with her toyboy partner are equally unfulfilled by this strange and amoral environment. Each and every one of the characters we meet is deeply, deeply unstable.

With painfully funny scenes of married bliss in meltdown and the insistent presence, on their screens and in their dreams, of the West’s far-flung and half-forgotten wars – Eldorado asks what happens when the drive for success carries us past our coping point. In this indictment of modern bourgeoisie society, Von Mayenburg shows us that we’re unlikely to get our bond back when our lease on the planet expires.

Sian Thomas offers the laughs as the wittily inappropriate, drunken, rich widow. And Mark Tandy is a delight as Anton’s sadistic Satan-like boss.

It’s a fast paced play that held the attention of this buzzing audience throughout. Confusing at times, but always enthralling, this is an impressive production with high-level performances.

Rating: Four stars


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