Jaime Rocha rehearses a characterisation of Ortov: “a character, a scarecrow, a body that walks and gesticulates, an idea, a text, a man, a woman, a wandering being, a puppet, an actor, an armchair, a mirror, a poet, an animal, a tape recorder, a plastic bag, or is it all of that at the same time? Or is it our own life, that of us all, the unsettling present, the uncertain future, good and evil?”
“The actor who will perform under the name of Ortov goes on to relate to the spectators what he heard in the neighbours’ house, the dialogues they had in their daily domestic life, while justifying himself for the fact that he murdered the wife of this couple, showing with this act the social malaise in which one lives. At the same time that he confesses this violent act in public, he promotes his own trial with the help of the spectators in front of the television cameras invited for that purpose. He maintains an expectant attitude throughout the play. He anxiously awaits the arrival of the journalists.”
The first paragraph of the text of “O Mal de Ortov” gives precise indications and the motto for what to expect from this play by Jaime Rocha, published in 2009. Ortov (a character/figure that appears, for more than a decade, in several of the author’s texts) comes to assume the crime he claims to have committed before an audience of spectators (the real audience of each presentation of the show) and a team of journalists (characters that will be intermittently evoked by Ortov throughout the monologue). By means of this simple device that places actor and audience in a permanent dialogical relationship, the playwright rescues the spectator’s participation, asking him to assume the role of privileged confessor/voyeur and, at times, directly interpellating him to take part in the public judgement of the character. The theatre is thus summoned to (re)assume the political place of the Greek agora, a space where the issues of the polis are debated and agonizing decisions are taken – in this case, through a play that, written with the black humour and mordacity that characterizes Jaime Rocha’s theatre, confronts us with some of the burning issues that persist in characterizing our time, like, among others, the spectacularization of the media.