F— THEAT Shedding light?
If this short experimental work had been performed by a British student theatre group, I would have been quick to dismiss it as a load of self- lndulgent, if technically clever, claptrap. The company, Aenigma, is Italian, however, and somehow for that reason I'm more inclined to wonder if I’m missing something.
The source material is certainly intriguing — the show was inspired by the extraordinary graffiti of Fernando Ilanetti, a patient of a Pisan psychiatric hospital for twelve years. Over this period he covered a 180- metre-long wall with elaborate engravings, using only the buckle of his belt; the images were described by one academic as, ‘a gigantic attempt to analyse and explain the world and to position himself in it.’
Aenigma’s piece, ilof 4, uses movement, live musical effects, text and, most strikingly, a range of shadow-play and Chinese-lantern lighting effects. The actors spoke
FESTIVAL 1""/3"" Hf
mainly Italian, but presumany they thought understanding all the words wasn’t essential, as they did translate an introductory factual passage about Ilanetti. Much of the movement was pretty baffling, especially the point where the two performers, one with an umbrella on her head, stalk about brandishing TV aerials, but the visuals were amazing. Using the simple device of a projector shone through a hanging white sheet, the company made highly creative use of silhouettes and shifting perspective - a figure is imprisoned in a translucent bottle, darkness is torn away piece by piece to reveal close-ups of llanetti’s graffiti, a startled-looking silhouette is joined by a matching cartoon scribbled on the screen, splotches of bright colour rain down on another figure, a gigantic pair of hands grope across the screen and back, leaving fingennarks which quickly melt away. So even if you don’t understand it, it’s great to look at, it’s only half an hour long, and, after all, you have to see at least one really bizarre show on the Fringe. (Sue Wilson)
lot 4 (Fringe) Aenlgma, FEAST at the Fringe (Venue 13) 228 9656/228 2234, until 26 Aug (not Mon 23), 2pm, £5 (£3).
V THEATRE DEATH III VENICE
Despite adaptation successes with the likes of The Mill On The Floss and Orlando, lied Shift squander the richness of characterisation and depth of feeling in Thomas Mann’s celebrated novella in this world stage premiere of Death In Venice. Welcome to the play of the film of the book. Gustave Aschenbach spies the obiect of his desire, Tadzio, while holidaying in pestilence-ridden Venice and is instantly besotted. lienceforth, Tadzio Is not permitted merely to welt across the stage; he has to vogue and mince as though levitating metres above the common horde, in a manner befitting any self-loving, semi-deific choirboy Adonis. lie pointedly prolects his iridescent gaze at fortunate mortals as minimalist guitar whimsy provides soft-focus accompaniment. Yes, this is Aschenbach’s Ideallsed version of the adolescent Apollo, but it’s over. farcical in a context as grave and
pathetic as this.
Michael Sheldon as Aschenbach elicits a balance of sympathy and scorn as the cantankerous writer rendered Impotent by his obsession; one minute clashing with slimy, uncooperative Venetian officialdorn, the next dewy-eyed and on emotional tlptoes as Tadzio breezes aimlessly about. Tristan Sharps lends credence to a variety of ancillary roles, but otherwise the acting lacks credibility.
The transition to flashback sequences ls stilted, and at times, especially the opening scene, the dialogue suffers from verbosity at the expense of feeling. Ultimately, there's not enough emotional resonance to engage the audience throughout such a downbeat affair. (Fiona Shepherd) lieath In Venice (Fringe) lied Shift Theatre Company, Assemny liooms (Venue 3) 228 2428, until 4 Sept (not 23, 31 Aug), 1.30pm, 5.503150 (£5l£6).
0N CAL‘I‘ON HILL
I LAUGHED I CRIED I PAINTED
TICKETS FROM FRINGE OFFICE + CAFE 1812 C/C 031-557 6969 8: FROM THE VENUE.
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THE EDINBURGH FESTIVAL
Booksellers from throughout the United Kingdom will be exhibiting a wide range of Antiquarian and Secondhand Books, Maps and Prints.
Organised by the PBFA
OPEN AUGUST 16 AT 12 NOON Thereafter August 17 until - 4 September
10am - 8pm daily Monday to Saturday
Venue 34 - ADAM HOUSE CHAMBERS STREET EDINBURGH
. (i()( 0‘. A )1) e
The List 20—26 August 1993 29