Thursday, 11 August 2022

REVIEW: Closing Party (Arrivederci e Grazie) at Dance Base at the Edinburgh Fringe

Closing Party (Arrivederci e Grazie) marks the last instalment of Alessandro Bernardeschi and Mauro Paccagnella’s Memory Trilogy AKA Fifty-somethings. It follows Happy Hour (Luminux for Theatrical Moment and Total Theatre awards) and El Pueblo Unido Jamás Será Vencido. The performance I saw at the wonderful hub for dance at Edinburgh Fringe, Dance Base, featured Bernardeschi and Carlotta Sagna as the main duo, with an appearance from Ares D’Angelo. 

Without fanfare or grand celebration, this is a work about two middle-aged people, who are ready to farewell a part of their life which has now ended. They do this with nostalgia, acceptance and a little bit of hope for whatever might come next.

To summarise the plot or sequence of events that take place in the black and white monochrome world the two performers inhabit seems redundant in part, as the work, in its entirety, functions like a memory capable of jumping from one moment of time to another before finding itself in the present once more. 

It begins with bright lighting in a whited-out studio that makes no attempt to hide the audience. Without realising, the space darkens and the two gradually take over to inhabit the studio fully. Through dance, physical theatre, recorded images that play on a series of screens and vivid texts, absurd and dreamlike landscapes are conjured up and materialise into a retelling of a life full of anticipation, beauty and reality.

Sagna is such a satisfying physical performer to watch as she masterfully melds a quality of movement into her several monologues that swept me into every moment with sometimes laughter, sometimes pity and sometimes horror. At one point a series of unanswered jokes end in unbridled laughter from Sagna and her performance never falters to capture these heightened levels with unhinged truth. Bernardeschi has a cheeky and vibrant energy that plays out through a body that can no longer completely support it. The two together have an awkward and beautiful relationship onstage. A cameo dance from Ares D’Angelo who uses the lankiness of his body to prance and spin around the space injects an added bit of melancholic joy.

A wonderful element of the show includes the screens I mentioned above. Disjointed memories are experienced through large and small screens choreographed to play as part of the movement. At times we see the performers themselves in them and other times, film and pop culture icons. In terms of other production values, the sound entwines with generation hopping tunes and is executed with perfection and the set which somehow hides behind a single black (non-electronic) screen on wheels, finds a way through the action to spill out into the space as a satisfying mess.

This is an intelligent and humble piece of physical work. Catch it at the Fringe until August 14!

Review by Stephanie Osztreicher

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: NA | Price of Ticket: £16

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