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The Book of Loco


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The Book of Loco‘s set consists of a wall of cardboard boxes but it is a show which asks audience members to question their perceptions, analyse their opinions and reserve their judgments of others.

Writer and performer, Alirio Zavarce, who is originally from Venezuela and is now an Australian citizen, has created The Book of Loco over a significant period of time with director, Sasha Zahra, based on his own experiences of suffering and loss. The primary events that led to his personal anguish were his marital break down and his mother’s battle with cancer which are dealt with sensitively and compassionately, but the show he has created deals with insanity on a global scale.

We have all come across individuals in a variety of locations who are a little eccentric, off-beat or unusual and The Book of Loco asks us to consider them and their idiosyncrasies understandingly, especially as a twist of fate could see any one of us experience hard times or a personal mental collapse. The setting is often a waiting room which was the inspirational location for Zavarce’s initial reflective writing and aeroplane and travel imagery feature prominently.

Zavarce begins his show with some audience interaction and he maintains a rapport with the audience throughout. Interestingly, midstream, in the middle of quite an engaging anecdote about a waiting room or a customs interrogation, he stops the action, breaks character and becomes himself or perhaps shows another perspective of himself. A number of techniques are used to disrupt the flow of the performance and so the audience is prevented from comfortably following a linear story and instead, required to see issues from different points of view.


Video images are projected on to a wall of cardboard boxes to create different sets. Photo: supplied

Chris More’s video and graphic images and Chris Petridis’ lighting effects enhance the storytelling, provide some visually effective moments and contribute to the production’s desire for us to think deeply about global and personal issues that influence who we are, how we became us and why we think the way we do.

Zavarce refers to “rational madness” which describes primarily government sanctioned acts such as war, creating detention centres or denying genuine asylum seekers asylum: all of which have such a devastating effect on individuals but is explained away “rationally” by those who argue in its favour. There are powerful moments when Zavarce, in full voice, rages about the people in power who lie to their citizens, encourage them to fear others and train them to hate.

In The Book of Loco, Zavarce shows us the many facets of one man’s life and his personality: he is funny, charming, witty and satirical, but in an instant he exposes us to life’s foibles and horrors and reveals the anger within. Loco is a fascinating and absorbing one-man show and the time spent developing it has culminated in a satisfying and stimulating production.

Windmill Theatre is presenting The Book of Loco at the Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, until August 22.


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