A Special Day
This is a theatre production of the highest quality – an outstanding play, brilliantly performed.
The play is based on Una Giornata Particolare, a 1977 Italian film which portrays the happenings in an apartment block in Rome on the day in 1938 when Adolf Hitler visited Benito Mussolini.
The action centres around two people who are not attending the Fascist rally that day – Antonietta, a beleaguered housewife whose husband and six children have all gone to pay homage to Il Duce and the Fuhrer, and Gabriele an educated man who is a homosexual with apparent anti-fascist sentiments.
They are brought together by Antonietta’s escaped Myna bird which flies into Gabriele’s apartment. Through the course of the day the two find in each other various elements of life hitherto missing, and thereby providing memories of a special day which they can each take forward to sustain them in their challenges to come.
There are so many things to like about this play.
The staging is very clever with a sparse set initially consisting only of a few pieces of furniture and blank black walls stage right, left and rear, but which the actors then build by chalk drawing to create windows, a mirror, a bird cage, coat hooks, condiments and so on.
The actors, Ana Graham and Antonio Vega, both hail from Mexico and are superb. It is not too high praise to say that they are worthy successors of the movie giants who preceded them in the original movie – Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastrioanni. Ana embodies the downtrodden housewife enduring a loveless and laughterless marriage. Antonio is the intellectual struggling with the ignorance and prejudice of the times – and he also exhibits entertaining skills with sound effects, bird noises and ventriloquism.
Make no mistake there are grand themes here which still resonate today – the treatment of minorities, gender stereotyping, the ominous clouds of fascism – but handled elegantly in the context of the story of these two individuals.
I highly recommend getting along to this show. It is not staple FRINGE WORLD fare but stands out at the erudite end of the range of offerings.