The year is 1617 though the time is in many ways irrelevant in that the story could be told earlier or later, a young man raised in isolation in the shadow of the abandoned monastery in a farmhouse in Toledo with only his father for company, beyond the valleys and mountains and the forest, dreaming the wild dream of the animals.
Thrashing and whimpering, he wakes and says that this tale is a warning, of the men who for centuries have hunted the rotting hart, of the summer morning where he had to kill one of their three horses which was suffering in the heat, of the stranger who arrived while he had that blood on his hands, Diego with the dark brown eyes and the half-moon scar whose visit would change everything.
Directed by Flavia D’Avila, The Rotting Hart is a one-man show, a historic monologue with aspects of horror written and performed by Daniel Orejon as the unnamed man who at first resents the presence of Diego, hanging over him in the stables and at night, furious with his deliberate disinclination to hunt for meat and unable to comprehend his preference for search the library of the monastery for strange texts.
Carrying ideas of transformation, both physical and emotional, questioning the roles of the hunter and the hunted, the farmboy who has a wolf within, The Rotting Hart is poorly served by the minimal production with a static wash of red tinged light, no soundtrack and only a single prop to serve as steed, stalked prey and lover, the entire burden placed upon Orejon though with no stage any time he stoops down he is lost to anyone other than those in the front row.
Additional frustration stems from that which is lost in translation, with interludes where historic and modern legislation is recited in Spanish, providing context for the events of the play but likely incomprehensible to the majority of the audience; while a leaflet is provided which carries the English version, the text is so small as to be illegible in the dimly lit room, rendering the effort, and much of what could otherwise be a promising play, pointless.
The Rotting Hart runs at the Scottish Storytelling Centre until Sunday 13th August