Manuelita

Manuelita uses physical theatre, music, storytelling and comedy to tell the story of the lover and co-strategist of Latin America's 19th century revolutionary Simon Bolivar, Manuelita Saenz. Neglected from official Latin American history, she has recently been more widely recognised and was given a state burial in Venezuela in 2010.

Manuelita centres a visually striking hyper-reality around a sexy, charismatic and multi-faceted female lead, and its playful, pacey and poetic interpretation of history will strike a chord with any intrigued by the question, “who wants to hear about the Madonna when you can hear about a whore?”

The play suggests that Manuelita's erasure from history is evident in both the public’s ignorance of her bravery, ambition and military prowess and in patriarchal history's neglect of passion, music, sex and dance in favour of dry military analysis. Writer and performer Tamsin Clarke plays Manuelita as a storyteller and proto-feminist, unhappy to be sidelined. She asserts not that she was Bolivar's lover but that he was hers. This theme of self-assertion is typified when she refuses to let the musician, Columbian guitarist Camilo Meniura, take centre stage. It is therefore fitting that Bolivar himself has a minimal role in the play, and the degree to which he regards her mind and not just her body is left ambiguous.

Clarke demands the audience's attention as she fills the stage, convincingly playing Manuelita throughout her life, in various guises of “the bastard, the beauty, the wife, the whore, the soldier, the loca.” She also uses excellent comic timing to provide humorous snippets of other characters. There is imaginative use of the stage and minimal propping: a chair transforms believably into a horse, among other roles.

At times, Clarke darts around the audience demanding our attention, admiration and compliance, although there is not a lot of audience participation required. The music fits perfectly, swiftly moving between triumphalism, despair and humour, echoing Manuelita's proclaimed need for dance, music and passion.

Manuelita centres a visually striking hyper-reality around a sexy, charismatic and multi-faceted female lead, and its playful, pacey and poetic interpretation of history will strike a chord with any intrigued by the question, “who wants to hear about the Madonna when you can hear about a whore?”

Reviews by Alice Quine

Underbelly’s Circus Hub on the Meadows

BARBU Electro Trad Cabaret

★★★★★
Sweet Grassmarket

Nell Gwyn: An Epilogue

★★★
C venues - C nova

The Furies

★★
Assembly George Square Theatre

Charlie Baker: Just the One

★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

Harriet Kemsley: Puppy Fat

★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

The revolutionary who captured the spirit of a continent. A tour-de-force by Lecoq-trained Tamsin Clarke, featuring Colombian guitarist Camilo Menjura (2014 Latin UK Awards Musician Of The Year). Blending storytelling, comedy, physical theatre and live music, Manuelita promises Fringe-goers a toe-tapping, heart-swelling lunchtime treat.

Most Popular See More

Mamma Mia!

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Lion King

From £45.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Come From Away

From £25.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

From £13.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Life of Pi

From £19.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Wicked

From £31.00

More Info

Find Tickets