The limits of time, space and geography seem to fall away in Perro y Sangre ("dog and blood"), a thrilling blend of music, drama, flamenco and sex that opened for a four-night run at the 40-seat Ochre House theater last night. Written and directed by Ochre House founder Matthew Posey, the show is the centerpiece of the 2012 Dallas Flamenco Festival.
This show is hot. And it's short -- just 60 minutes, which feels exactly right. And it's about as perfect a piece of live performance as you're likely to see in a theater only a little larger than four parking spaces.
Posey's story has the young Ernest Hemingway (Christian Taylor) and his pretty wife Hadley (Miller Pyke) meeting a mysterious couple and their vicious dog in a deserted village in Baeza, Spain. Handsome El Matón (renowned Spanish flamenco dancer Antonio Arrebola, in Dallas just for this production) and his glamorous wife Triana (local flamenco star Delilah "La Musa Brava" Buitrón, who also choreographed this show) proceed to tell the lost Americans their tragic story. He was an assassin; she was a gypsy "madonna." They married and adopted a mean black dog (a cleverly designed marionette operated by Justin Locklear and Mitchell Parrack) to protect them from inquisitive villagers. The secret of El Matón's death is revealed - not in words, but in dance.
Trembling with sustained tension, Arrebola, dressed all in black, takes to the tiny wooden dance floor to interpret the story in the pounding rhythms of flamenco. Behind him, Spanish musicians Ricardo Diaz and Aaron Gallegos on guitars, Alfredo Gonzales on percussion and "cantaor" José Cortés Fernandéz provide the haunting, throbbing music.
The dance sequences include a sensuous duet between the tall, dark-eyed Arrebola and the tiny, creamy-complexioned Buitrón (wearing exquisite dresses from Alane Gabriel and Flamenco Closet Creations). There are solos by each (in one of his, he dances holding a sharp, gleaming silver dagger in each hand) and then a final dance of death. Arrebola and Buitrón, their arms curling around each other like wisps of smoke, their fingertips drawing pictures in the air above their heads, perform flamenco with such passion they seem to travel to some other plane of existence. You'll be drawn into their trance.
In flamenco, a juerga is something like a jam session in jazz. It seems to happen magically and spontaneously, with performers dancing, singing and clapping in the staccato beats of the music. For Perro y Sangre, Ochre House, sitting across the street from Fair Park, has transformed, at least for a few nights, into a juerga in Southern Spain.
Perro y Sangre is performed at 8:15 p.m. through Saturday, October 27, at the Ochre House, 825 Exposition Ave. For tickets, www.OchreHousetheater.com or 214-826-6274.