“I’m not a prose actor,” one of the charged, young dancers tells us, in an aside, in Nella Tempesta, a physicalized meditation on Shakespeare’s The Tempest (the happening was presented at La Mama, from December 11-21). The leading character, no longer the banished Prospero, is Ariel, waiting, in despair, for freedom. Shakespeare’s language is largely gone, too. Alternatively, we hear, in voiceover, “the storm . . . is the people. . . . The people are the storm. . . . Thoughts are power. It’s the people that are the storm. They can explode at any time.” Should The Living Theater come to mind–during this 80-minute program of blinding strobe lights, camcorders recording us, committed youth action, interviews given by refugees, and blanket collections for the homeless and dispossessed—viewers will be happy to know that Judith Malina’s blanket is on hand. We also hear her disembodied voice: “I think we are in a holding pattern. It’s too static. It has to blow up.” Whatever happened to American theatre of political action anyway? Why are there too many fake retreads on the downtown theatre scene? I wish I could hold up Motus Theatre Company as an antidote. Unfortunately, the troupe is from Padua, Italy. Perhaps the most unusual Christmas spectacular going—with a foul-mouthed Miranda and an Ariel of indeterminate sex–the play's anarchy can sometimes remind of Fellini. Another young actor sums up the zeitgeist: “Let’s occupy everything.”
When are you coming back, Motus?!
By Motus Theater Company (Italy); conceived and directed by Daniela Nicolò and Enrico Casagrande; based on “The Tempest” by William Shakespeare and “Une Tempête” by Aimé Césaire; technical direction and sound, Andrea Gallo; lighting and moving-head design by Alessio Spirli; production manager, Lisa Gilardino. Presented by La MaMa Earth. In Italian, with English supertitles. At the La MaMa Ellen Stewart Theater, 66 East Fourth Street, East Village, 212-475-7710, lamama.org. Through Dec. 21. Running time: 1 hour 20 minutes.
WITH: Silvia Calderoni, Glen Caci, Ilenia Caleo, Fortunato Leccese and Paola Stella Minni (actors/dancers/performers).
(c) 2014 by Bob Shuman. All rights reserved.