Friday, 31 January 1997

Hearts: A Poster of the Cosmos, Jan 31, 1997

Written by Lanford Wilson
 By Torino Spettacolo with IRAA at Theatreworks until Feb 9, 1997
Reviewed by Kate Herbert round Jan  31, 1997

Valter Malosti's performance in Hearts:  A Poster of the Cosmos is, at times, so frenetic it is painful to watch. His character's grief and his need to tell the story of his great love for his partner are palpable.

Malosti was acclaimed here in 1993 for his exceptional performance in the monodrama Ella. Although this piece is in some ways less effective and there are some language problems, Malosti's performance is vigorous, skilful and intensely physical. As Tom, the American baker, he is volatile and emotionally fragile as he skips like a child about the cavernous, empty black space of Theatreworks.

The outer layer of this text by U.S. playwright, Lanford Wilson, is Tom's interrogation by the police after the death of his lover. The other inner layers are more metaphysical and psychological. As he cavorts about, we are drawn on an elastic thread into his desperate and confused internal world.

Malosti is accompanied onstage by the thrilling voice and evocative music of cellist, Ezio Bosso, who is both a dark commentator on the action and an echo of the dying AIDS victim, Johnny. He tilts into light, gaze averted, cello (or double bass?) dragging behind, only to swing into sound and action on cue. It is a stunning collaboration of actor and musician.

Malosti and co-director Tommasso Massimo Rotella do not rely on theatrical paraphernalia. The set is a collection of rough chairs, a cloth and words chalked on a black floor. This is an Actor's Theatre piece: uncluttered, focussed on the character's tortured world as he confronts madness and grief.

Corridors of light entrap and enclose Tom as he reveals his story. He quotes snippets from Bukowski, Vonnegut and Shakespeare. Finally, he stands at the centre of a cross reciting Emily Dickinson's, "Because I could not stop for death, He kindly stopped for me."

In spite of some language ˆı problems, this is an exciting addition to the St. Kilda Writer's Festival and a credit to the Italian Cultural Institute and IRAA who have brought the show here.


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