The Scotsman / La Merda: One of the Most Wonderfully Full-on Performance Ever Seen
Devastating stream of consciousness.
by Joyce McMillan, The Scotsman, 15 August 2012
★★★★ Summerhall, Edimburgh Fringe Festival
One of the most wonderfully full-on performance ever seen at Edimburgh Fringe Festival.
Are you brave enough to spend one hour with Silvia Gallerano? I am a woman, hear me roar.
FIRST, A WARNING. If you are too fragile, around nine in the evening, for the experience of being shouted at for an hour by a beautiful, stark-naked Italian woman perched on a high metal platform in a bleak and echoing Summerhall lecture theatre, then Cristian Ceresoli’s new monologue La Merda – first seen in Italy earlier this year, and now performed in a fierce, shattered English by Silvia Gallerano – is probably not for you.
Yet if, on the other hand, you would like to see the one show on the Fringe that single-handedly nails all the images of distressed 21st century young women that pervade this year’s programme – their extreme anxieties about body image, career, fame, identity and meaning – then I would suggest you screw your courage to the sticking-place, and take on board this devastating stream-of-consciousness monologue about a young would-be actress facing up to an audition in modern Italy, and all the sh*t, literal and metaphorical, that passes through her mind and body in the process.
In the foreground, there’s the desperate search for celebrity, the severe eating disorder, the constant threat of sexual neurosis and exploitation; in the background, a recurring image of a father in a red shirt, and of a world of political action and possibility devastated by history. And although Gallerano should probably tune her voice a little to the boomy acoustic of the space she’s in, there’s something about the unreserved, operatic intensity of her performance, its terrible sadness and seething rage, that speaks volumes about the condition of young women today, in Italy and across the west; and about the vital ways in which the feminist revolution of the 1970’s failed, and remains incomplete.