“I would have been a better king of Spain than any who would have occupied the throne after him,” Ramón Madaulla said while presenting “Else Bonaparte,” a dramatic text he composed, inspired by the encounter between him and José I. Two brothers, Napoleon and Joseph, in the vicinity of Vitoria in 1808, after the defeat of the French forces at Bailen by General Castaños, try to establish a similarity between two characters with strong family ties, but at the same time, so different from each other.
The author of this first production of the academic theater season underscores a complex relationship between the two brothers, combined with familial ties, the affection they profess and a shared respect for the mother who was a skeptical witness to his unstoppable rise. With the political interests of the empire that Napoleon is trying to build. Madawla imagines the emperor as a newborn king born from the wombs of the people, who, after revolutionary turmoil, can ensure the continuity of the ruling family with a legitimacy that traditional ruling families cannot exercise.
But at the same time it is transforming its expansionism into a form of European avant-garde, certainly shaped by Gallic interests, and ultimately dominated by France. In this sense, the conquest of Spain would have responded not so much to an expression of this goal as to a more concrete and direct reason: the need to respond to Portugal's pro-British stance. This high policy is jeopardized by the hasty departure of Joseph I from Madrid, which causes the Emperor's hasty flight and a confrontation with his brother, who tries to bring him to his senses and prevent him from staying, as he appears like a coward who flees at the first setback.
The dialogue takes place in the context of an intimate encounter while the two brothers take a boy's bath – both lamenting the lack of such a sanitary substance in Spain – with the occasional presence of the emperor's Mamluk slave, a figure who places the counterpoint, emaciated and frustrated by his master's tolerance, of common sense before the brothers' dreams. In the conversation, the author's sharp strokes about the opinion that these Spaniards are worthy of Napoleon, that they are subjects of kings and slaves who do not deserve all kinds of prejudices, but who managed to inflict a serious defeat on his troops, but allow him to include such gems as “the Spaniards are a proud people of faults” stand out. But there is still an unsettling ending, when Madola wants the Bonapartes to forget their imperial function and their supposed French calling to remember their isolated origins and celebrate Corsica's uniqueness. Or is it an intended resource that calls for a different reading of these payments? Who do you know!
Silvia Montt brilliantly directed the three actors: Pau Roca and David Pages in the roles of the Bonaparte brothers and Oriol Guinart as the slave, who, less reserved than one might expect from someone of his stature, performs his servile task with devastating critical seriousness. All of this makes “Else Bonaparte” an interesting text that proposes, in its dramatic play, an imaginative historical re-reading and invites us to think about what would have happened if Joseph I had succeeded in establishing his Spanish crown.
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