Adele's Heart

Fri 3rd – Sat 11th August 2012

reviews

James Fennemore

at 09:48 on 10th Aug 2012

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‘Adele’s Heart’ is a gorgeously intense, raw, and deeply human piece of theatre. Its success is built upon unostentatious production and superb acting performances from both of its cast members.

Lucas (Gaetano Sciortino) and Adele (Katarina Morchacova) are thrust together, hiding in a shed during an unspecified external conflict, cowering from passing war-planes. As their relationship develops, they quarrel over their differences, exposing the tenderness and turmoil of their individual and shared existences. ‘Adele’s Heart’ tracks the fractures made by distress and warfare, and lays bare the extremist range of human feeling and emotion.

The acting, particularly that of Sciortino, is the best I’ve seen all Fringe. These are performances of such honest integrity that the psychological reality of the characters is vividly communicated. The piece is broiling with the saliva and sweat of its performers, who commit entirely to the anguish they depict. The early scenes, in which Lucas is depicted in feverish distress, are unsettlingly real. The relationship which binds the two characters is moving and psychologically adept, as they spar and shout, laugh and love.

These performances do a great service to an excellent script, written by director Giampiero Rappa, and translated near-flawlessly by Paula Wing. Rappa maintains superbly high levels of intensity throughout the piece, which becomes a claustrophobic pressure-cooker, oozing with passion and agony. Rappa would have done well to have varied the emotional pitch a little more, however, with much of the central section of the play seeming too uniformly and relentlessly full of moments of anger and pain. There is little time for stillness and quiet.

It was refreshing and affirming to watch a production which recognised the value of the integrity of simple performance, without any other unnecessary distraction. The set is bare, the lighting unsophisticated. All that matters are the human beings upon the stage. ‘Adele’s Heart’ is a reminder that great theatre need not be dependent on exorbitant budgets or spectacle.

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Emma Yandle

at 09:55 on 10th Aug 2012

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Adele’s Heart begins with a young woman creeping onto the stage, only to drop to the ground whimpering and cradling herself as silent planes fly overhead. It’s wartime, and the stage is a shed where she can hide. Out of the silence, a tarpaulin starts crying for its Mummy like a pitiful toddler. It’s a man, badly wounded. Now they’re stuck together in a small room whilst the world rages outside. Translated by Paula Wing from an original Italian script 'Adele's Heart' relates the interaction of Adele and Lucas in an extraordinary situation. This is merely the shadow of a play filled with gut-wrenching emotions and troubling questions.

Writer and director Giampiero Rappa shows the side of human beings that doesn’t have an outlet in everyday life. Although intimacy and sexual passion are huge factors in our decisions, we tend not to acknowledge the power they have over us. But small situations can only be borne through big emotions and by giving his characters the horrors of war they let forth on everything. The best thing about the script was that it didn’t fall into the trap of writing philosophically tight and profound lines for its cast to eloquently muse on with, but let them speak with the tools they could plausibly have. Lucas’ righteous inability to express hurt as he yells ‘Bitch! Bitch! Bitch! Bitch!’ was a lot more effective than anything articulate.

The cast was strong and completely engaged in their performances. They sweated and spat out their lines and were electric to watch. Gaetano Sciortino as Lucas was marvelous at portraying taut desperation, like a steel wire being plucked. Katarina Morhacova as the eponymous Adele was fiery, feverishly urgent, then suddenly vulnerable. Both easily lived up to the high emotional demands of the play.

A criticism of this would be that Rappa so clearly wanted to push its characters to their limits, that almost all the action took place on this highly-wrought level. Whilst this was at first affecting it became almost too overpowering to leave the audience a chance to feel something too. Adele and Lucas were so far from being recognisable types that they were almost implausible, sometimes coming across as overly irrational and volatile. Yet when you start to think that people aren’t really like this, you’re reminded of the situation they’re in as they frantically duck down to silent bombs or dash off stage in search of food. Definitely worth a watch Adele’s Heart is a fascinating example of modern Italian theatre that will keep you thinking for a long time after you leave.

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