Review: Django in Pain (online)

A show which starts with on-screen trigger warnings and an appearance of the writer warning us “this is not a happy play” does at least set out what we might expect. The writer may want to write something happy; his main character is anything but.

Many pieces of drama have taken depression as their main inspiration; here, Django in Pain was created in lockdown and takes the form of models and puppetry with music (by Crostobal Maryan, recorded in Mexico).

Playco and Por Piedad Teatro present a piece co-created by Antonio Vega and Ana Graham. Its creativity – using objects and recycled materials at home to make the puppets, props and sets – somehow make the dark subject matter more palatable.

It feels very meta as the writer types on screen at certain points and puppets narrate Django’s character arc. This is writing at its most inky black, but with a bright line of hope through it. You may be advised to approach with caution at first, or take breaks when watching, but stick with it

Publicity image for Django in Pain

The play is extremely well done, the puppetry impressive. The importance and power of animals is also addressed, but their lot to often be neglected and abused is also an integral part of Django in Pain.

With a cast of characters including a vulture, a dog and wolves, this show is a representation of the uneasy relationship between man and our furry and feathered friends. A scene of shadow puppetry near the halfway point is particularly strong.

This is a piece of writing which will stay with you until the end. Written and directed by Vega, photographed and edited by Graham, this is an uplifting piece taken as a whole, created and recorded on a mobile phone in one New York City room.

You can watch the stream of Django in Pain during the Brighton Fringe: for tickets go here. Watch the trailer here.