Review: ALMA; A HUMAN VOICE  ****

THEATRE

ALMA; A HUMAN VOICE 

Summerhall Venue 26 11.50

August 3rd to 26th Not 8.13 and 20.

**** (Four stars)

Here is a very engaging and absorbing show, presented by Nina’s Drag Queers of Milan, who were founded in 2007.

Lorenzo Piccolo is a very expressive and captivating performer. He comes onstage and lays out the set, removing things from an anachronistically modern suitcase which somehow fits and provides visual balance. Things which include wigs, a dress, the all-important telephone, and a small gun (A gun? A gun onstage is very symbolic, and usually there for use.) Behind is an armchair with an art deco design.

Lorenzo Piccolo introduces us to the situation before us, and talks about Alma Schindler, best known as Alma Mahler, from her composer husband. As Lorenzo tells us, she had other intellectual lovers, and became known as the Muse of the Four Arts.

The telephone is of central importance early on, as the influence of Jean Cocteau and his La Voix Humaine is felt, with words and song and lip-synching from Lorenzo. Here we reflect on the waiting game a love affair can involve, and what might be the difference between a woman and a man waiting.

Oskar Kokoshka was one of Alma’s lovers, and his making a doll version of her after she left him becomes the inspiration for a vivid central section here. We enter more closely into a world of surreal emotion as this magical collage of recycled and reinterpreted materiel has its effect upon us. Plus the glasses. The very impressive glasses, which in a way form a barrier to over-involvement. This is a show that wants us to know the inner feelings of the subjects, and yet to keep our distance.

This show is recommended for its blend of insight, entertainment and maybe playful empathy before lunch.

Tony Challis