[2013119] The Book of Loco

[2013119] The Book of Loco

Alirio Zavarce @ Tandanya – Theatre

3:00pm, Sun 10 Mar 2013

More than a little buzz had surrounded The Book of Loco; theatre-loving Fringe-goers were raving about it, yet didn’t seem able to describe why it was deserving of their praise. Or maybe they were being spoiler-friendly.

Which is nice, because there’s plenty to spoil. Alirio Zavarce starts the performance sitting in the crowd, and when he stands up to initiate proceedings – amidst a technologically marvellous set of cardboard boxes (used both as props and projection surfaces) and accompanied by an unnerving recording that states “In case of emergency, be vigilant” – it becomes clear that this Loco is going to be, at the very least, a unique experience.

Delivered by Zavarce largely as a monologue, Loco stems from his personal life – the loss of his mother, the breakup of a relationship, the impact of the 9/11 attacks: all these things lead him to believe that, on the basis of his life, everyone can get a little bit crazy… a little bit loco. And whilst the personal content is quite moving, there’s some forays into content of a political nature, too.

There are interstitials, breaks between scenes and set-pieces, where the pre-recorded audiovisual content takes over; and the direction of these moments is superb, with light and sound being bandied about the cardboard boxified theatre with inventive abandon. The boxes themselves start as an imposing wall, but their integrity is frequently broken – by simulated explosion, with boxes tumbling as the bass rumbles, or by Zavarce bursting through them, piss-farting around to change tone from a deeply personal scene.

Typically, shows I see at the tail-end of the Festival season have their blog posts written well after the fact; this one is being written about ten months after seeing the show. That means that I rely more on notes, rather than memories, and that usually means that my emotional reaction can be tempered somewhat: I tend to gloss over the bad stuff, and my overall feelings about the show – as defined by what I write – are usually more positive the longer I leave the writing.

Not with The Book of Loco, though. I distinctly remember walking away from Tandanya thinking that the piece was pretty powerful; my notes include references to the curious duality of the personal and political content, and I can totally understand why. But my subconscious has been chewing on the performance for a while, now, and it has formulated some sticking points: the juvenile crudeness of passing around a plate of shit, on the pretence of assigning it a value (to demonstrate capitalism). The extreme polish of the production – in particular, the superb lighting amongst the wall of fresh cardboard boxes – is almost in conflict with the messy jump-cut narrative.

But, most of all, my memories now foster the idea that Loco was an uncomfortable lecture. Like a uni lecture for a course that you’re only half-interested in because The Object Of Your Desire is taking it but the lecturer is trying to be Kool with the Kids and is being uncomfortably personal. Zavarce’s personal content still rings true, but the links to the political feel forced… now. But at the time, it was genuinely intriguing.

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