Reviewed on 30th May 2017
Life is a precious thing and today that thought is fresh in the minds of everyone as terror has dug its claws into the United Kingdom for the first time in years. La Strada as a production is mesmerizing to watch and explores the concept of beauty in a life amongst the suffering and tragedy posed by the creator of the timeless Italian film La Strada is based on, Federico Fellini.
The transition from a film to a theatre production was a challenge for the company of the production with the film giving mere glimpses into the character’s inner motivation and lives whilst also not passing judgement or comment that feels similar to that of Alan Bennet. The production takes this challenge in it’s stride and creates a lot of great positives in this production starting in the cast and the use of the company. The story for La Strada has three main characters in Gelsomina, Zampano and Il Matto (The Fool) yet the surrounding ensemble are used in great effect as a revolving round of characters and more impressively form together in moments where Gelsomina goes through desolation-esque moments and the cast use synchronised movements to emphasise the moment that is beautiful to see.
The music is an area that is richly rewarding in the production due to the precedent set in the film with a large breadth of music both fun and rich in raw emotion. The story that follows Gelsomina’s journey begins with Zampanmo buying her from her village and the two travel from a bar, a wedding and to the circus which naturally allows music to flow in these locations which is wonderfully created with the instruments on stage performed by the cast with a mix of musicians and ensemble which is wonderful to see, the music equally is a great tool for the production to explore the character’s lives and emotions through dance without the need for dialogue that is very smart. The most impressive place the music shines in is inside the moments where Gelsomina feels desolation and one motif is prominent in these moments that through the show becomes more powerful and haunting by the end of the production, my favourite moment this motif comes out in is when Gelsomina triumphantly performs with a trumpet for the first time and feels truly magical to behold.
La Strada is filled with well crafted moments like these yet in the first half there is a real sense of the production being slow and combined with the lack of a tangible rising action that typically the first act can rely upon the production falters in this regard. This is very much due to the source material the company were working with yet the second act is a testament to the great job the production does in being magical and haunting which lets the first act down even more as the company have proved they can do it.
Overall La Strada feels and looks like a very well thought out and produced production of a timeless film that captures many wonderful moments for an audience to remember, the production may falter in the first act yet the strength of the second certainly lifts the productions as a whole and makes the issues within the first act forgettable as your eyes are transfixed on the drama on stage and the fascination of how one little girl can have impact on so many lives on the road.
Star Rating: 4/5
La Strada is on it’s final stop of it’s UK tour and is running at The Other Palace until the 8th July 2017.