I’d Rather Goya Robbed Me of My Sleep than Some Other Arsehole

Rodrigo García, translated by William Gregory
Gate Theatre, Notting Hill

Steffan Rhodri and Friend Credit: Ikin Yum Photography
Steffan Rhodri Credit: Ikin Yum Photography
Steffan Rhodri Credit: Ikin Yum Photography

Even Pedro Almodovar would not have come up with an evening (or just over 45 minutes) quite as surreal as I’d Rather Goya Robbed Me of My Sleep than Some Other Arsehole.

One is tempted to describe it as a solo show starring Steffan Rhodri and that is almost true. The actor renowned for his performances in Gavin and Stacey and Harry Potter as well as Clybourne Park, clearly has fun delivering the monologue of an unnamed 50-year-old who decides to have the night of his life.

However, in order to make his sons a little more life-like than the other characters, all of whom are represented by toys, two other performers constantly threaten to steal the show.

The lads aged 6 and 11 are portrayed by a pair of black and white piglets who, even in the presence of a bacon fry, squeal and grunt their pleasure at a few minutes in the West London limelight.

The story that they help to illuminate is almost as mad as the concept. Our man has taken his pitiful life savings of €5,000 out of the bank to spend on one blissful night of hedonism.

Despite some predictable alternatives and the boys' wish to visit EuroDisney, our protagonist talks them into a late night trip to break into the Prado and enjoy a private viewing of Goya's black paintings.

First though, they enjoy a fluent debate in German with a fashionable philosopher hired especially for the occasion.

If this makes little sense, that is probably because the idea seems mad enough to have been thought up during a drunken binge or stay in a secure institution. In fact, Fly Davis's white set comprising a cell within a cell might be hinting at the original source of the inspiration for such a surreal experience.

While following the picaresque taxi ride across Madrid, spectators can take in a series of sometimes eccentric views on sex, art, literature and Mickey Mouse before the art lovers get close to their gallery assignation.

The result is rather fun, even if the meaning is hard to discern and the enthusiastic human performance from the entrancing Steffan Rhodri under Jude Christian's direction holds the attention even when little is apparently happening.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher