Review Roberto Zucco, August O12, Chapter Arts Centre by Hannah Goslin

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Production Photograph by Jorge Lizalde – studiocano.co.uk

In the midst of sparkly confetti and placed in a traverse corridor shaped stage, we were invited into the play of Roberto Zucco; a serial killer known for his murders of his father, mother, a police officer and a child.

From the above brief synopsis, we would expect that the play by Bernard-Marie Koltes would be an emotional impacting play, veering on the disturbed and the almost uncomfortable. And to a point, this is correct. August 012 have taken the play and ventured into this concept, but with a twist. Two hours of something so heavy could turn an audience away, but with the comical factor and the impressive staging concept, not to mention the fantastic acting by all cast members, Roberto Zucco changed into a play with a range of emotions, from fear, to excitement, to hilarity.

The production as a whole reminded me of an alternative universe. There were hints of what we can relate to in modern age in characters and in the scenes, but with occasional glimpses into historical stereotypes, such as the American style 1940’s detective. The use of bright colours in costumes and props such as blood that is spilt in contrast to some more plain and plaid areas added to this concept, reminiscent of the comic book style of film genres such as ‘Sin City.’ This came with inventive ideas which I cant mention here as they may be a spoiler for the production! but rest assured these moments  accompanied by lighting and sound effects were a real highlight of the work. The ‘Little Chicago,’ filled with its lust of prostitution and crime ,vibrant with colour and stereotypical of such places. It felt as if we were in a strange different world, where the norm was not possible.

This take on a real life story however, could make you forget that this is indeed based upon a true serial killer. The actor playing Roberto, Adam Redmore brought this back. For very controlled movement, facial expressions and overall persona, it could only take a very skilled actor to accomplish. With the hectic nature of some characters in their farce take, this cool and collective character almost seemed like the most normal of them all. And of course, the accompanying actors tended to take on several roles, an impressive feat I would say. Not only did they manage to make us forget that they were playing different characters, their physicality and attitude to the different parts was astonishing and well accomplished. Not one character could be said to have outshone as they all showed their very well trained skillset.

The contrast of recorded music as well as an in person choir was a lovely idea and did add something different to the piece. The choir sat on high staging behind the audience around the room, at times taking part as very minor characters. While this was a good addition, as well as the shining talent in the audience with impromptu speaking and movement parts, it felt that more time was taken on the main actors rather than  work on the choir. Eye contact at times that were from their own inquisitive personalities I felt broke some of the atmosphere, with fumbling attempts to get onto the staging drawing attention away at times and ‘character’ breaking when finding some of the action comical themselves. To me personally this at times, spoilt the well-executed action on stage.

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