Friday, March 6, 2015

La Merda at the 2015 Adelaide Festival

La Merda by Cristian Ceresoli

Performed by Silvia Gallerano. Produced and presented by Marta Ceresoli,Richard Jordan Productions, Produzioni Fuorivia in association with Summerhall and the support of The Basement (Brighton. U.K.) The Space. Adelaide Festival Centre. March 5-8

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins

Silvia Gallerano. Photo by Guilia Ducci
Cristian Celerosi. Photo by Valeria Tomasulo

As raw as a sliced cut of blood-oozing beef, La Merda rips at the heart, tears open the fragile layers of sensitivity and exposes the disgusting darkness of a thirteen year old girl’s excruciating account of grief, despair, abuse and unfulfilled dreams. Silvia Gallerano, crouched naked upon a tall stool in a solitary pool of light, howls the grief of the young girl’s loss of a father, screams defiance against intimidation and humiliation, grunts the gross lust of the sexually abusive predator and returns time and again to the voice of innocence and desire. Gallerano’s amazing vocal dexterity extols her song of experience, wailing with agonized pain, sweetly uttering the sounds of hope, guttural in her depiction of the degenerate males that defile and degrade and forever exposed and vulnerable in her nakedness.
Silvia Gallerano. Photo by Valeria Tomasulo

It is the woman who now must redress the wrongs done to the girl, restore her faith, realize her dreams and rise against the forces, that would rob her of her virtue, her ambitions and the strength to be who she is. La Merda is a protest against the tyranny of exploitation and oppression, told by a performer whose courage and boldness to sit entirely naked for an hour before her audience and recount, without the shackles of self-consciousness the truths of horrific experience at the hands of those who would destroy her innocence through sexual abuse, her ambitions to be a famous actress and her dreams to expunge the shit that stifles identity and opportunity.

La Merda confronts with ferocious force. From the voice of Gallerano surges the breadth of the young girl’s experience. This is theatre of cruelty, as powerful and revolutionary as Artaud, voiced in violence and sung in defiance. For some, it will disturb. For others it will inspire. For all it is a salutary reminder to protect the innocent, encourage the hopeful and defy those who would deny identity and destroy hope.

Gallerano’s performance is spell-binding. Perhaps it is too long and possibly it could be as powerful if it were not performed entirely naked throughout the hour. That is a performer’s will and a director’s decision. Gallerano’s vocal force erupts with volcanic power over an audience, horrified by the young girl’s account. Those who stood in ovation at the end, when Gallerano stood before them,  nowwrapped in material and discarding her nakedness to take her curtain call, recognized that she was speaking for all who suffered oppression at the hands of abusive adults, false imagemakers and oppressors of every kin, though primarily male. La Merda opens the sewers of experience to illustrate who we are.

It is a theatrical experience that one is unlikely to forget and one that is important to remember.