More than six decades after Fellini’s haunting tale of drifting and abandonment (it was released in 1954), Cookson and her stage team have recaptured the film's haunting vision of post-war Italy – a period consumed by economic hardship and the struggle to survive in a bleak and barren landscape.
When the tale begins, protagonist Gelsomina (Audrey Brisson) is being sold by her poverty-stricken mother to the brutish Zampano (Stuart Goodwin), a travelling street performer. His act involves breaking a solid metal chain around his chest. The two take to the road with only a motorbike.
Finding solace in seedy bars while making money performing on the streets, Zampano and Gelsomina find themselves at the circus. It’s here that the Fool (Bart Soroczynski), an acrobatic, unicycling, accordion-playing clown, clashes with Zampano. The Fool encourages Gelsomina to find her voice and passion, as she picks up a trumpet for the first time. But unlike Zampano's act, can Gelsomina ever really break free from the chains that bind her?
Much of La Stada’s charm lies in Benji Bower’s music, performed on stage by the ensemble cast. But you’d be wrong to think of this as a musical. Instead, the music serves to enrich the neo-realism of the play. Through string instruments and the nostalgic echoes of the accordion, music is very much placed in the context of the real world. At times of dancing and celebration it is joyous, but it can also strike out in a minor key, rich in darkness and melancholy.
This production is given real life by a superb cast, at times almost ghostly figures, serving as an echo of lonely Gelsomina's subconscious. Cookson's La Strada succeeds on every level – an authentically Felliniesque experience from the skin to the soul. A must-see.
|What||La Strada, The Other Palace review|
|Where||The Other Palace Theatre, 12 Palace Street, London, SW1E 5JA | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Victoria (underground)|
30 May 17 – 08 Jul 17, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM
|Website||Click here to book tickets|