Yesterday, I saw Ducdame Ensemble's production of Fuente Ovejuna at the New York International Fringe Festival. It refreshed my memory about this great play by Lope de Vega.
Based on real events from 15th-century Spain, the play features King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, who had only recently united the country. The Ducdame production plays up Isabella's role, giving her many of the lines assigned to Ferdinand in the original, but otherwise their adaptation of Adrian Mitchell's translation was fairly faithful.
Sam Gilroy is appropriately villainous as the military commander who terrorizes the town of Fuente Ovejuna (especially its female citizens). It comes as no surprise when the villagers decide they must defend themselves by killing the commander, an act director William Oldroyd stages with shocking violence.
The heart of the play is the sequence where one by one the villagers are tortured to determine who cast the blow that killed the commander. Each peasant gives the same reply: "Fuente Ovejuna." They will stand together, and if necessary, die together.
Fuente Ovejuna is only playing until August 26th, so if you want to see it, act now!