Maria Addolorata
Carlo Massari and Chiara Taviani in Maria Addolorata at Summerhall

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Scotsman review (dance, physical theatre & circus): Maria Addolorata at Summerhall (Venue 26). Review by Kelly Apter

Carlo Massari and Chiara Taviani in Maria Addolorata at Summerhall
[Dancers Carlo Massari and Chiara Taviani offer a subtle exploration of dealing with physical and emotional pain.]

A multi-pack of beer sits in one corner. Two coated figures stand and sit in another; one tall, one small and weeping. What happens next, I won’t reveal, but suffice to say it’s unexpected.

From such an unpredictable start, Italy’s C&C Company become a lot more upfront. This is a show about suffering, about how we deal with pain, both physical and emotional. Strange, then, that it should be so enjoyable to watch.

This is due, in part, to the talent of performers Carlo Massari and Chiara Taviani, whose physicality compels our attention throughout. But it’s also because this is not pain via slapstick or voyeurism; it’s a largely subtle exploration of the subject, which switches direction from moment to moment.

At times, it’s purely physical – Massari throws his body roughly to the ground in a repeated loop, or drinks heavily, clicking open one can after another. Other times, the suffering is far more subtle. To the sound
of Johnny Cash, the couple cling to each other, his hand softly running over her body – but there’s an internal torment at work.

Stripping from their outdoor clothes into running gear, they pace the room to depict another, more self-induced pain – but it’s not long before a sharper vulnerability rears its head. More clothes are removed, conflict is re-awakened and Massari is left reeling and bloody.

Yet even then, a deep tenderness connects the duo. A bond fuelled by desperation, fear, love and longing. By the end, both performers have been to hell and back, and have the blood streaks to prove it.
But just as surprising as the opening moment is the fact that nothing here is gratuitous, over-played, unnecessarily macabre or even difficult to watch.

Despite the subject matter, Maria Addolorata is a highly physical journey that grabs us not through shock tactics but fine movement.

Until 24 August. Today 6:40pm.

Originally published in The Scotsman

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