Manuelita

Tamsin Clarke

Underbelly, Cowgate

From 31 July 2014 to 24 August 2014

Rating: ****

Review by Philip Fisher

The award-winning life of Manuela Sainz or Manuelita is a delight, as presented by the energetic and winning Tamsin Clarke, a performer who is more Latin American than her name might suggest.

Accompanied by guitarist and wit, Camilo Manjara, the actress embodies one of those intrepid 19th century viragos who were born a century or more ahead of their time.

This tough cookie was independent from the moment that she was born out of wedlock in South America.

A convent was not constructed well enough to stop her eloping with an older man and marriage to an Englishman well over twice her age soon lost its attractions too.

The making of Manuelita was the arrival in town of Simon Bolivar, liberator of his peoples from the colonial tyranny of Spain.

Soon enough, the feisty fighting heroine was his lover and not long after Coronella in his army.

Tamsin Clarke delivers a strong, friendly production with song and particularly dance enhancing the performance, ensuring that her audience falls in love with both player and subject during an intense but joyful 50 minutes.