La Merda is a one woman show, comprised of three monologues performed in tandem by a naked actress sitting from on top of a small platform. The monologues are the craved utterances of an aspiring and troubled actress, cataloguing her delusions, depravity and unrealisable ambitions.
Throughout the course of the play, it’s suggested that the protagonist’s desperate condition is intended to serve as an analogy for a post-fascist and corrupt Italy – where this production was first performed. This does, however, feel a little uncertain – with too few references for those poorly versed in the vagaries of twentieth century Italian history (or, for that matter, the language). The break-neck speed and fragmented style left me, in this regard, a little uncertain as to who or what was the intended target: nationalism, chauvinism, avarice, self-interestedness – or all of these things?
For me, La Merda was much more effective as a meditation on desire than as a political satire – within which domain its wide-angled vituperativeness ceases to be a difficulty. The protagonist’s omnivorous and unquenchable appetite; her ugly and counter-intuitive craving for recognition; the ultimate impossibility of her living up to her own projected self image – these are just a few of the tragicomic motifs that surfaced in what developed into an obscene and troubling paean to unfulfilled human fantasy.
Silvia Gallerano delivers a wildly frenetic and impassioned performance, whilst Cristian Ceresoli’s script is both rhythmic and vivid. They suit one another well, and this is an original, unsettling and thought provoking piece.