Wednesday, 7 February 2007

The Nature of Things, Season 1: Relics and Time, Feb 7, 2007

The Nature of Things, Season 1: Relics and Time
by Renato Cuocolo and Roberta Bosetti
Secret Location, Tues to Sat, one hour between dusk and dawn,  Feb 7 to 25, 2007
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

A performance by Roberta Bosetti, directed by Renato Cuocolo, is unlike a theatrical event.

The relationship is intimate, the physical distance eliminated, the actor becomes an acquaintance and the audience becomes confidante or voyeur. The work is confronting for some.

Relics and Time is in a secret location: a private residence where Bosetti and Cuocolo currently reside with another couple and a child. The seven visitors arrive (one got lost and arrived late) and knock tentatively on the door.

Cuocolo greets us, ushering us into a starkly empty room to sit on hard chairs. He gives us a number, offers us wine and leaves us to watch a painstakingly slow, hand-held camera film of Roberta’s childhood home in Vercelli in the north of Italy and to listen to an hysterical Italian radio talkback program.

For some, the 25 minutes of viewing every architectural detail is excruciating and puzzling.

Roberta enters suddenly, greeting us like a gracious host and introducing herself to each individual. She muses on the frustrations of standing in queues waiting for one’s number to be called until finally, our numbers are called.

The evening proceeds gently, like a quiet night with a friend reflecting on her childhood. Roberta leads us through the house, showing us replicas of furniture from Vercelli. She introduces her housemates then tactfully closes their doors.

We wait and listen in her kitchen, sipping wine as she washes dishes and makes espresso. We are witnesses to her struggle to scour her memory for the minutiae of a particular childhood moment. She recalls a kitchen, a table, a hard chair, a green and white cotton tablecloth, her friend Jeanne, her parents, a packed suitcase, a frosty departure.

We listen intently to the evolving story, watching Roberta’s graceful movements and semi-consciously take in the details of her kitchen: running water, cook books, coffee pots, gleaming surfaces, a shifting branch outside. The green and white cloth becomes paramount, as if we have zoomed in with the camera and stuck on a particular item.

There is an ominous sense in the slow piecing together of patchy memories. We anticipate pain or sorrow but hope for joy.

Finally, at the candlelit table on the chilly patio, the entire memory is revealed and we are dismissed to wander into the darkness, musing on time and memory.

By Kate Herbert

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