Yes, La Merda translates from Italian to English as “The Shit”. But it’s cerebral rather than carnal shit – the kind of brutal and raw stream of consciousness that simmers at the back of the mind, beckoning darkness and doubt.
This exclusive Australian premiere of the Italian cult production La Merda (written by Cristian Ceresoli) presents a riveting solo performance by award-winning actress Silvia Gallerano.
Originally a book published by Oberson books, Cresoli’s text is presented in three parts. It’s a feminist script that is deeply compassionate and thoughtful, addressing issues of mental health, suicide, grief, courage and politics, both sexual and state, and self-esteem.
Gallerano plays a young actress, desperate to win a part in an audition. Sitting naked and alone on a stage, she reveals her darkest thoughts and memories in an intense monologue of rage and self-doubt, courage and humour.
The subtext is that as an adult she is struggling to reconcile with her childhood: her mother chastised her for her “problem” (she believes she has fat thighs), while her father gave her his love and time, but his life was tragically cut short.
She justifies her father’s suicide – he chose to step over the “yellow line” in front of a train wearing his “red coat” as an act of courage – and describes her first sexual experience performed out of shock, force and obligation in the school carpark.
It’s the kind of subject matter that taps into the deep memories and insecurities of childhood that are the foundations for adulthood.
Gallerano’s delivery is flawless, impressive; she didn’t miss a beat on opening night. For the entire performance, she is perched on a stool centre stage, her body lit like a Lucien Freud painting, while her face contorts from the sweetness of innocence to the madness of flooding grief and uninhibited anger.
The audience whooped after the first act and Gallerano received a standing ovation from many.
La Merda made its world premiere in 2012 at the Edinburgh Fringe and has since toured Europe. The show has won six major awards, with Ceresoli and Gallerano becoming the first Italians ever to win the 2012 Scotsman Fringe.
La Merda is playing at the Space Theatre, Festival Centre, until March 8. Note: this show contains nudity.
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