Farewell, aerial Genius…

Nothing less than a precious cameo, becoming `a natural born Shakespearian actor` at the height of his career. `The Tempest`, last on stage 2019, now in streaming on the Elfo-Puccini website, is a gracious window on a wise, poetic soul, well-informed about himself, and his life as a performer. A one-man show tailor-made for Ferdinando Bruni — founder member of storied Teatro dell’Elfo, from the co-authorship pen of Francesco Frongia. Pouring out of an intimate recounting, this short, yet intense version of `the last tale`, leans on specific predilections as a theatrical concerto, in and about the original plot, to act as an aesthetic statement gem, a gift from an actor to his audience as a tribute to life.

In little more than an hour, alone on stage, with just a couple of extra `island servants`, all the characters parade as a fictional court by the hands of Prospero the wizard-master-father-player. Shipwreck discloses the whimsical `pirate of destinies`, — in a torn stovepipe hat, brown Elizabethan collar, dark frayed coat-gown, diverting his and his daughter’s life on a white sand island — memories of old shores popping out from a distant past, smooth branches scaffolding light drapes. White sand canvases, where animated figures come to life on stage through different voices, accents, and a perfect `soundtrack` — as if inherent part of the dramaturgical `arrangement`.

Books surround a wooden stage-on-the-stage — those same books whose main sin was to have diverted attention from power, thus easing a brother takeover. On this set-in-the-set, Miranda is cuddled as a doll, before turning into an oneiric figure, Japanese Bunraku-like marionette, made up assembling recovered materials. Similar semblance is reserved for Ferdinando, while engaged into the capricious ordeal, before the final blessings. Same goes for the skull masked Alonso-Gonzago and Antonio-Sebastiano pairs, in a carousel of intrigues directed on stage as in a Días de los muertos setting — an anticipation of the final forgiveness which is here son of the fear of death.

Glove puppets are instead reserved both for Ariel — or the `aerial Genius`, who is the guardian of life itself in Prospero’s magic, here conceived as an all white transparent fabric plot and a tiny head in a Pulcinella-like hat, and his opposite, the deformed, half-human, devilish Caliban, an alluring Mamuthones mask, changing dimensions depending on his presence in each line. Therefore, big in the encounter with Stefàno and Trincùlo, whose hilarious Salentinian accent brings about some show-into-the-show made of a liquor-induced obscene score. Gracious, on the other hand, is the heart-rending closure, whilst the old man who has let his `spirit` and his magic go, thanks his public for understanding.

`Now my charms are all o’erthrown and what strength I have mine own`

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© Luca Piva

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