During the Spanish Civil War, Carmela and Paulino, a vaudeville comedy act, have mistakenly crossed the lines and fallen into the hands of Franco’s troops. Forced to put on a performance for the fascists and a group of International Brigade prisoners due to be executed the following morning, they rehearse their show – flamenco songs, the pasa doble and bizarre comedy routines in an atmosphere of increasing tension. But as heels and castanets clatter, and the quick-fire patter flows, their own intriguing story unfolds in an unconventional style, with a dash of magic realism and in a riot of black humour and ghostly passion. It soon becomes clear, however, that they are quite literally playing for their lives.
Ay Carmela! is a story of love and loss – a moving reminder of the failure of the living to learn from the dead, and raises ever-relevant moral questions about war and the political responsibilities of artists.