Self-righteous royals, a drunk pope and a confused astrologist: Kalmarspexarna had it all muddled into one perplexing English play about religion and booze.
Set in the year of 1469, Queen Isabella and her husband Ferdinand decide to convert all Spaniards to Catholicism to bring peace and wealth to the country after finally having taken the throne. Subsequently, we see the trials and turmoil that the Spanish Inquisition stirs up. During the plot, the monarchs meet Christopher Columbus and several colorful religious leaders from all over the world. Interestingly, half of them are alcoholics while the other half seems to be infatuated by gourmet food.
While the plot felt original, in some scenes one idea less instead of one too many would have been a better choice. The costumes and makeup were makeshift but extremely detailed and adorable. Even though beauty can be found in simplicity, the stage setting could have deserved a little more love; the inclusion of a live band, however, made up for that deficiency.
The entire Spex is played and sung in English, the only one in Lund to do this, while pop culture references to The Hunger Games, Harry Potter or Fifty Shades of Grey appeared in abundance. The music to the songs ranged from AC/DC to Mika and either described the love a character felt for their alcohol – mostly whiskey – or for their religion. The last song, which the entire cast sang together, clearly stood out as the musical highlight of the night.
Although not very fast-paced, the play had its funny moments both in music and acting and produced more than one laugh-out-loud instance, or ‘LOL’ as the Queen’s daughter Katherine would say. Often the origin of the joke was Catholic or Mormon faith, which is understandable since Sweden is not a very religious country; if the audience is international, however – as will mostly be the case for this English Spex – some sensitive spectators might get offended at the bluntness with which this type of humor is delivered.
Overall, the ensemble produced a fun play, in which drunk pope Alexander VI was the undisputed show-stopper. It has to be acknowledged that all actors performed in a language that is not their mother tongue, which makes it infinitely harder to come up with word plays and be spontaneous when the audience yells ‘retake’. Simply because it is the only English Spex in Lund, international students should go see it if they know their Swedish won’t ever be quite up to par.
Text: Katherina Riesner
Photo: Lukas J. Herbers
KalmarSpexarna: Isabella of Spain
- Where: Kalmar Nation, Biskopsgatan 12
- When: 29 November, 19:15, doors open 18:45 (Premiere)
30 November: 19:15, doors open 18:45
3 December: Pubspex! 20:00, doors open 18:00
4 December, 19:15, doors open 18:45
7 December 19:15, doors open 18:45
- Price: 65 SEK, non-students: 85 SEK