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THEATRE REVIEW

COMPAGNIA PIPPO DELBONO: GENTE DI PLASTICA

 

By Patricia Boccadoro

PARIS, 13 DECEMBER 2005—The return of the "magnificent Italian" might have been greeted with rave reviews from some critics but his work is not 'popular' as has been suggested and does not please everyone. He received a lukewarm reception at the Théatre du Rond-Point in December. Gente di plastica contained little that was new or original apart from some updated news items, and the beginning of the piece, which was excellent, might well have been written in the 1970s.

The Italian writer, actor and director, Pippo Delbono founded his company in the late 1980's together with the Argentinean actor Pepe Robledo. It was after a meeting with Pina Bausch, the Lady of Wuppertal who has produced masterpieces of theatrical invention, that Delbono became obsessed with the idea of portraying his own form of reality on stage.

Gente di plastica, which won the Olympici del Theatro award in Italy in 2002, deals, if one carves a way through his world of madness, with Delbono's feelings of alienation, loneliness and of his preoccupation with growing old. He has staged his personal anguish and frustration in a world of despair, reminding his listeners of the Jews who were gassed, the Kurds who were shot and the children who were slaughtered, while references are also made to the current atrocities in Iraq.


Compagnia Pippo Delbono: Gente di plastica
Photo courtesy of  Théatre du Rond-Point

The evening was inspired, if such is the word, by the song, "Plastic People" by Frank Zappa, but the loud music belting out was not by Frank Zappa. "Gente di plastica" was also dedicated to Sarah Kane, an Englishwoman who wrote poems and committed suicide at King's College hospital at the age of 28. 

Short shrift was given to the women on stage.  Long-suffering in their carpet slippers or cow's head mask, they were either gross, Fellinian and dribbling with fat,  or shown as idiots parading round in white tutus and stiletto- heeled shoes. And of what interest was it to learn someone's wife was making a tart, until a grinning creature prancing around in a tight-fitting dress made the point.

As far as the men were concerned, well then, they were dressed as women for most of the time apart from a vulgarly dubious fashion show, where a selection of the oddest shaped ones modelled  jock straps to dustbin sacks. Was this meant to be funny or sad? It won a few sniggers.

With this peculiar brand of humour, Delbono is trying to stamp his world of despair on us, peopled by monster- like characters sprung from vulgar cartoons. But it Is irritating to see lavatory seats on stage, whether decorative or serving the purpose for which they were made, and tiresome to hear the lament of old age once again. This deliberately violent theatre / chaos production lacked spontaneity. Delbono, spouting his spiel in a box at the back of the action rang false. He was not enjoying himself, and neither were many of us.

.

Patricia Boccadoro is a senior editor at Culturekiosque.com



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