BWW Review: DON'T YOU DARE!, Tristan Bates Theatre
The Actors Centre and Voila! Theatre are currently hosting A Piece of the Continent at the Tristan Bates Theatre, a small three-week festival to celebrate European talent. Artist coming from all around Europe take their plays to London in a diverse and engaging program that spans all areas of experience.
Chiara D'Anna brings the Italian tradition of Commedia dell'Arte to the table and gives it a cynical slant to deliver a history lesson that transcends space and time. She is effortlessly funny as sets the scene between now and 1601 Italy, infusing razor-sharp humour in her social critique and painting a jarring picture of today's political climate.
The hate speeches delivered by Cardinal Carlo Borromeo, leader of the Inquisition, to try to turn people against women, immigrants, and other outcasts and warn them against societal progress seem to be taken directly from the mouths of the likes of Theresa May, Donald Trump, and Italy's own Matteo Salvini.
She's charismatic and enthralling as she weaves together the stories of renaissance primadonna Vittoria Piisini, businessman and media tycoon Gino, a PTSD-ridden soldier who's just come back from the war, and the lovely but easily influenced granny Nonna Ida. D'Anna is a chameleon and builds her characters thoroughly and unequivocally through changes in her physicality and voice, displaying exquisite acting skills.
The long-established mould of the Commedia dell'Arte acts as a foundation with D'Anna's becoming Arlecchino (Harlequin, one of the genre's masks) to introduce and resolve the piece. She has the character collect her audience from the bar and foyer to kick off the performance before they are in the room, starting the blend between real life and pretense that she will carry out throughout the show with the help of Jelmer Tuinstra's lighting design.
By picturing old imaginary enemies, portraying illogical fears, and putting the crowd in front of the absurdity and nonsense of the criminal actions of past politicians, Don't You Dare! candidly presents the chilling dangers our not-too-distant future holds.