Review by Silvano Squizzato
This promenade performance in the Leper Chapel is a mesmerising, synesthetic experience through various sensorial dimensions, where a powerful visual stimulation overlaps a mysterious soundscape and a claustrophobic warm air.
When you go through the main door of the Chapel and enter the ancient medieval building, you feel a moment of bewilderment; light fades out, familiar and recognisable references are not there any more, reality becomes blurred, present and past coexist. The scene is constantly changing. Ring-a-roses appear – reminiscent either of childish games or ritual conspiracies – and suddenly vanish. One moment you are in torture cell, another moment in an adulterous bedroom. On one occasion you feel you are in a nursery, on another occasion in a dolls’ house inhabited by evil dolls and cruel toy soldiers. Then you are in a sort of asylum where ruthless doctors are conducting terrible experiments, and later on you are outside a riotous inn where drunken men altercate.
From time to time, caped white-masked figures emerge, any human traits obliterated from their faces and bodies. These ominous creatures could be haunting memories from the past, disembodied and nefarious sentinels of atrocious instincts, nightmarish ghosts in a distorted serial killer’s mind. One of the caped masked figures, always in one spot, wears red devilish gloves and is the ‘horologist’ in charge of the ‘soundtrack of the play’, controlling the pace and rhythm of the events, creating either soft and comforting interludes similar to lullabies, or evoking eerie and murderous accidents through a sinister knife-sharpening sound.
Woyzeck’s Moments of Relief
However the atmosphere is not always heavy and upsetting. There are moments of relief, as when a delicate figure starts elegantly and sinuously dancing like a ballerina on a Venetian gondola music box. Other figures join in and an intricate ensemble revolves in the middle of the space, producing a surreal sense of enchantment and suspension.
All the striking images, supernatural sounds and articulated movements offered to the audience are elements enjoyable in isolation. But combined together, they transform space and time, removing the delineated borders between innocence and aberrant violence, seduction and abuse, sanity and insanity, morality and perversion. In this Kafkaesque society women are at the margins, and neglected people are abandoned to themselves – unable to change their destiny of loneliness and despair.