Watching "Ataque Verbal" is much like attending a virtuoso recital of seven Chopin preludes. Each of the seven "arguments" or themes serves to challenge a pair of actors to display their virtuosity. The tension and excitement within each is generated as much by our critical observation of their skills as by the content of the scene's script - like the tension and amazement I felt when I once attended a performance of Sviatoslav Richter and heard him begin a Scherzo at nearly twice the speed most prudent pianists would attempt it - yet the really fast portions were yet to come.
So, here too, we watch and listen and judge and appreciate the skills of consummate actors - above all, ones who work with Albaladejo, whose work I have personally enjoyed immensely, as in Cielo Abierto and Primera Noche de mi Vida.
In regard to the seven themes, my personal two favorites are the following:
- A nocturnal scene beside a park dumpster. Two wacky female custodians are arguing: the one a tough cynic, the other a heartbreak softy. By the end of the little piece, the softy has found (not to mention a barbeque grill and assorted other paraphernalia) an abandoned baby and has to fight with the cynic to keep it.
- A scene at the bedside of a high school girl who would appear to be eight months pregnant, judging from the height of her stomach. But the girl has been in bed for months, recovering from an auto accident and is still bandaged and with a black eye. Her concern is the possible gossip flying around the school and the fidelity - or infidelity - of her boy friend who hasn't come to see her since the accident. Her visitor is obviously an inveterate gossip, and far from being her "closest friend" is only there to collect juicy news. After extensive prying, the visitor gets her to admit that on a camping trip she "may" have had sex. "But it was instantaneous," the suffering girl tells us. "He just sort of put it near me and... maybe it went in a little bit, but it was sort of instantaneous. Does that count?" "Well, I'd have to say yes," replies her gossip friend, "I'd say you did it, but that you didn't do it very well!"
Okay... I don't want to kill the above two stories by relating their full content - and the other five were also amusing. The last, with a cuban "jinetera" (prostitute) and a Swedish ventriloquist-tourist chatting to each other in a bubble bath is amusing... not to mention another, involving almost entirely a phone call. I think I'd better stop here.
This is a DVD I have watched several times, something in itself rare. Oh, and I'd better mention that my DVD was ordered from Spain, and on mine, English subtitles are available only for a few of the vignettes. In most, they'd be pretty well useless, given the speed of some of the dialog. Moreover, even if one could speed-read subtitles, how can one appreciate the acting at the same time?