19th Oct, 2017

Literally Unfinished Business as La Strada at the Birmingham Rep leaves you wanting more

Bromsgrove Editorial 15th May, 2017

USUALLY any Kenny Wax production is a memorable event and ‘La Strada’ by Unfinished Business, based on the scripts of avant garde Italian film director Federico Fellinni is no exception.

The company comprises multi-talented players who combine circus skills, acting, mime and musicianship in a fast moving morality story.

Gelsomina, touchingly performed by Audrey Brisson is a young girl, sold by her mother to a roguish, strong man – street entertainer known only as Zampano – a powerful and believable performance by Stuart Goodwin.

Together Zampano and Gelsomina set off on his huge three-wheeled motorbike (a magnificent piece of stagecraft as the bike is human and formed by actors). They tour the land, stopping to perform in town squares and whilst Zampano entertains the crowds with his chain breaking act – Gelsomina goes round with a drum and the money cap.

Zampano then routinely abandons her to go off drinking and womanising. That is until she finally grows stronger and threatens to leave him. He realizes how much he cares for her and whilst he doesn’t completely conform he does become more considerate.

Zampano’s nemesis is a clown called Il Matto, (Bart Soroczynski) who flips between being a lovable fool and a Machiavellian troublemaker. Their rivalry eventually leads to tragedy.

Whilst everything about La Strada is highly watchable I was left feeling disappointed that the story seemed to finish far too abruptly.

The writer Mike Akers and producer Sally Cookson devised La Strada together with the company in the rehearsal room, I hope they go back there and add another thirty minutes of story and answer so many of the questions that are left hanging in the air.

Review by Euan Rose.

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