Edfringe – Pathos review 2

by Ellie Taylor, Edfringe Review 
★★★★

Ester Montalto’s Pathos was without a doubt the most bizarre show that I have seen so far this Fringe, or come to think of it – ever. Matched only in its bizarreness by its brilliance, I recommend this show to any Fringe-goer that would like to try something entirely different. It is remarkable how much feeling can be portrayed in a show without speech: through a clever combination of movement, masks and music the audience are convinced that what they are witnessing is genuine. Actors Massimiliano Angioni and Francesco Saitta join on stage and almost immediately have unparalleled chemistry.

Opening with an on-screen barrage of headlines portraying the violent crimes of jealous lovers in a range of different languages, the audience are introduced to the performance’s overarching topic. Already one of the main points of the piece is established: that jealousy can come from anyone, anywhere. This is something that is consistently maintained throughout the performance, be that a feeling that young and innocent children have or the strangely similar if slightly more complex feelings that come with adulthood.

The concept of universality is also maintained through Montalto’s choice to use two male actors, which was a decision that turned out to be ingenious and interesting in equal parts. No matter which actor is playing the female role at any given point, the feelings they experience do not differ, and as a result the finger of blame cannot be pointed anywhere specific. Angioni and Saitta quickly demonstrate that this bold choice was definitely the right decision.

A highlight of the show was during the fifth scene, during which some extremely odd audience interaction is adopted. This largely consists of a masked man – playing a woman – flirting with a large proportion of the audience. Obviously, this works to create some of the jealously that fuels the action of the play, but it was nonetheless surreal to be propositioned by a faceless mime, and not an experience that I will forget. Such behavior inevitably leads to violence, which was brilliantly choreographed and deeply upsetting. The solitary figure of the abused woman was both poignant and powerful. The audience does not have to wait long for the figure of the abused man, which was no less powerful – and falls in line with the show’s deliberate blindness to gender.

It would take more than one review to convey the complexities of the play, so instead I advise that you simply go to see it. With jealous lovers being thoroughly covered theatrical ground, writers are hard-pushed to find an original way to express this familiar trope, but Montalto certainly succeeded in this. Simply put, talent abounds in both the writing and the acting of this performance.

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