Venue: Old Fitzroy Theatre (Woolloomooloo NSW), Oct 1 – 19, 2013
Playwright: Bernard-Marie Koltès (translated by Martin Crimp)
Director: Anna Jahjah
Actors: Tim Cole, Lyn Pierse, Gemma Scoble, Sam Dugmore, Adrian Barnes, Neil Modra
Image by Katy Green Loughrey
Subtitled “the journey of a beautiful murderer”, Roberto Zucco is based on events and crimes committed by Roberto Succo in Italy and France in the 1980s. Bernard-Marie Koltès’ script (his final one, written in 1988) has shades of absurdism, but it is thankfully a coherent one that director Anna Jahjah is able to materialise on stage with humour and logic. This is a funny show with solid performances from some of the cast, and it is indeed the comic actors who leave the greatest impression.
Lyn Pierse plays 3 whimsical roles, and she is the consummate scene stealer. The younger players try hard to match up to her abilities, but Pierse owns the stage, and the audience hungers for her every gag and punch line. Neil Modra and Sam Dugmore are a delightful duo, with brilliant comic timing and chemistry. The personalities they create together, and individually, are whacky and wonderful, and both show a level of confidence and pizzazz that works perfectly for the tone of this production. Adrian Barnes takes on the older male characters, and applies wildly different approaches to each of them. He is a delightful presence but it is his performance as the tender, playful and charming “Old Gentleman” that is most interesting.
Design aspects though not particularly appealing, are effective. The construction of two levels on the Old Fitzroy stage adds a visual complexity to the play, and helps the actors emphasise the physicality of their performances. Jahjah’s work demands that her performers are agile and expressive with their bodies and faces, keeping her show consistently fast-paced and fun. Roberto Zucco fascinates with interesting characters and talented players, but ends up being overly light even though murder and rape are central themes. Nevertheless, this is a show that will entertain and amuse, even if the bigger questions are not thoroughly explored.