Presented by Carla Anita Mattiazzo. Directed by Vince Fusco. Percy Court Studio. The Lab. Queens Theatre. Adelaide Fringe. March 9-11
Reviewed by Peter Wilkins
|Carla Anita Mattiazzo|
Intimacy is best served by an intimate space. It is why I was concerned when I discovered that Carla Anita Mattiazzo’s cabaret style performance was a deeply felt revelation of the personal pain inflicted by her mother’s decision to walk out on her family after forty two years of married life. That’s Life is an account of the trauma caused by the mother’s departure and an attempt to understand and come to terms with such a significant event. It is a personal tale of betrayal and confusion; a search for answers in a bewildering situation.
Unfortunately, the towering Queens Theatre, now a shell with little appeal, is not the ideal space for such an intimate and revealing tale of family pain. Mattiazzo strikes a commanding presence in her long dress and silhouetted against a backlit cyclorama. As she softly breaks into a song that comes from the aching heart, accompanied on piano, the lights fade up enough to make out her statuesque figure on the raised dais.
What follows is a confessional with one important difference. In Mattiazzo’s eyes and through her dramatic account of events following her mother’s departure, it appears that it is the mother who has sinned and broken up the family. In dramatic terms this creates a theatrical flaw. We only ever have one side of the story, and the performance becomes repetitive. Certain incidents such as the visit to her mother a year later and the subsequent wrath of her mother’s siblings during the incident is unresolved and the audience is left to contemplate the other side of this sorry event.
Mattiazzo’s talents are apparent. She has a strong voice, though somewhat forced at times due to the amplification in the large space. Intimacy is sacrificed to amplified vocals and when she drops to a lower register her voice becomes breathy and indistinct. There is a deep emotional depth to her performance, to be expected from a personal story that has had such a profound effect on her and her father and brother. However, a performance, unconstrained by the absence of well-written, interestingly structured dramatic development, is diminished by an obvious lack of effective dramaturgy. At the close of the performance, Mattiazzo is left with no resolution other than to espouse the virtue of love. There is a congregational call to demonstrate and cherish love. It is a noble sentiment, but That’s Life lapses into private therapy and indulgence.
I am assuming that Mattiazzo is just embarking upon a career in cabaret. She has the talent to develop into a very fine performer, and she was fortunate to be accompanied by an excellent musician but with strong direction and a skilful dramaturge, Carla Anita Mattiazzo has the potential to become a cabaret artist with the power to move and excite audiences. I look forward to one day possibly seeing her perform on the Adelaide Cabaret Festival stage.