"The best way to travel is to feel. To feel everything in every way"

Álvaro de Campos, one of Fernando Pessoa’s heteronyms

Ladies and gentlemen,

We must warn you from the start: this play in English is not some sort of lesson where we will be singing, dancing, and enacting the history of Portugal on stage. Our actors not are mere tourist guides, who will stick to narrating facts with a varying dose of fantasy.

This show is admittedly a nonsense musical comedy full of mystery, adventure, romance, drama, and tragedy. Its aim is to serve as a national identity card and to show you the true essence of our people, our very Portuguese way of being.

This whole journey through our specific genetic heritage (“to feel everything in every way”) begins when a couple of tourists embark on an adventure that started over 900 years ago. In the company of Portuguese iconic figures they too will take part in geographic, political, religious, cultural, and linguistic battles.

In reality, they will learn the meaning of desenrascar, a verb so powerful you can only find it in three places in the whole wide world: our dictionary; Portuguese DNA; and the TV show MacGyver, in which the main character accomplishes seemingly impossible feats in little time and with almost no resources available (he desenrascates it).

This is what impossible means to us: declaring the country’s independence in a subway carriage; discovering the world aboard a fearless bathtub; having our national heroine, the brave Padeira de Aljubarrota cook a steak that will reconcile Napoleon and the Duke of Wellington; or simply having our former dictator Salazar play a game of poker against James Bond at Casino Estoril.

Tired of their status as emblematic stone statues in the Lisbon area of Chiado, poets Luiz Vaz de Camões, with his ruffled collar and Fernando Pessoa, with his numerous heteronyms, act as guides to most of the scenes in this odyssey. You will also see them match their talents against each other and engage in a battle of egos.

However, reality is crueller than fiction and both learn that their best-sellers – The Lusiads and The Book of Disquiet, respectively – will never be able to compete with the work no Portuguese kitchen can do without: the book on the thousand ways to cook salted cod.