The Guardian ★★★★ _
The stage is empty, except for the oversized stool and the naked woman (Silvia Gallerano) who sits under harsh spotlights. There is nowhere to look but her, nothing to hear but her. And this woman demands to be watched. She demands to be listened to. She demands you pay attention: because she is going to be a star.
Written by Cristian Ceresoli, La Merda is a true steam of consciousness and Gallerano tears right through it. She shouts out in self-important rage, then softly whispers asides. She barrels through words and phrases, relentlessly driving forward in unstoppable energy, each of the three acts of this one-hour show. It builds in intensity until Gallerano is screaming into the microphone, our ear drums about to burst and then, suddenly: blackout and silence.
This woman is at once repulsive and sympathetic. She creates crass impersonations, she tells us how she manipulates people to get what she wants, how she is obsessed with fame above all else. She also details how, as a teenager, she was sexually assaulted and as an adult she was raped.
She is irreparably obsessed with her body, so disgusted by her thighs that she used to visited a woman who slathered them with yellow cream and electrodes for 40 minutes a week. Her beloved father committed suicide when she was 13, and she still obsesses over the incident.
As self-loathing as she is self-loving, constantly conflicted, trying to laugh away her pain. Unapologetically, she takes up space, angry at her life and at the politics of Italy, knowing she is destined for something bigger.
Gallerano sits naked, shamelessly demanding to be seen. But the focus is always on her face: often ferocious, frequently violent, sometimes contorting in laughter, but always utterly compelling.
La Merda runs until 8 March