La Merda
Silvia Gallerano [performer], Cristian Ceresoli [writer] @ Space Theatre
8:30pm, Thu 5 Mar 2015
In the centre of the otherwise empty black stage is a tall stool, somewhat like a lifesaver’s vantage point at the beach. On top of it sits Silvia Gallerano, microphone in hand. She’s naked, and – initially – organises her limbs demurely, garnering as much modesty as she can given the circumstances.
When she starts reciting the first of Cristian Ceresoli’s three monologues, my attention is drawn – nay, dragged – to her mouth: stark red lipstick and bold movements accompany her speech, as her heavy accent is softened by forced language. She begins softly, but firmly, announcing that she is going to be a star… but the story takes us in a seedy direction, of charlatans and corruption. The softness in her voice ebbs away, being replaced by a curiosity, a disbelief, an anger… and the pace of her delivery – and her volume – grows.
Almost as if a dam is giving way to the weight of water it holds back, Gallerano is suddenly ranting – then shouting, then screaming – into the microphone. My blood starts racing, my ears start bleeding, and I cannot look away from the raw naked fury gesticulating in front of me. The torrent of words reaches a piercing crescendo, then…
When the lights come up again, Gallerano has re-settled. Her voice is soft again. The next story starts, builds, and then assaults us… another blackout. And then we are subjected to the attack again, only this time the acceleration seems far quicker, and we are battered for far longer. There’s an uncomfortable silence at the end of the third act, when we don’t know whether the show has finished or not… whether Gallerano will blister our ears and our sensibilities with another stream of verbal violence.
Ceresoli’s mountainous scripts – all three monologues are incredibly dense – are deliriously political: broader societal politics are laid bare, informed by the corruption in the Italian system, but there’s much more said about personal politics… and especially the patriarchy. Ceresoli’s characters are abused, but they’re not helpless… and Gallerano’s actualisation of their voices is incredible.
La Merda – The Shit – was, without a doubt, one of the most brutal full-frontal assaults I’ve ever experienced in a theatre. And I can sum up my memory of La Merda in one word: Incendiary. Gallerano’s passionate ascension felt like it was igniting my mind, and by the end of the third act I felt absolutely ablaze with disgust and revulsion and shame. It feels odd trying to associate any of my usual positive phrases to this performance… but I am so glad that I got to experience it.
— Pete Muller (@festivalfreakAU) March 5, 2015