Everything Theatre – Pathos review

by Tim Bano, Everything Theatre
★★★

The Mimetic Festival  – a celebration of cabaret, puppetry and mime – is now at an end. One of its final performances was Teatro In Centro’s Pathos, a mostly silent multimedia look at love and jealousy.

Newspaper headlines telling stories of murder, massacre and suicide are projected onto screens on the stage, consisting of one large backdrop with two smaller panels either side. The headlines are written in everything from English, to German, Italian and Farsi. All the while mournful strains of string music fill the dank tunnel underneath Waterloo station in which we are sat. The full title of the show appears: Pathos, can you kill for love?, and the two performers (Massimiliano Angioni and Francesco Saitta) play out six little scenes written by Ester Montalto, enacting various scenarios to depict different aspects of love from different stages in life. Yet the pair hardly speak – the only noises they make are ‘meeps’ and ‘cheeps’ like Pingu the penguin.

Patterns and pictures on the screen frame and compliment the action happening on stage. They are not intrusive, instead they help create the weird “half world” of the performance. Each scene has a different narrative and each one is presented in an original way. They start off, like we all do, as children. Francesco Saitta, dressed entirely in white with a comically large bow-tie, enters pootling along on a micro scooter but pretending it’s a motorbike. Massimiliano Angioni joins as a girl, complete with long hair and a frilly skirt, using her scooter as a buggy. The boy and girl fall in love.

One scene is performed in a wash of ultraviolet light, with the performers dressed all in black except for white gloves, which glow purple under the UV glare. They turn their glowing hands into different shapes to tell a little love story. This section is mostly quite messy, and it’s not easy to make out what the hands are supposed to be, but sometimes eye-catching patterns do take hold.

Switching from white costumes to black or sometimes wearing scary and hideous masks, Angioni and Saitta play out these mini narratives that all tend towards a violent or unhappy ending. It’s mime and mostly silent, so images and gestures have to be exaggerated in order for the audience to understand what is going on and what the performers are trying to get across. But this means resorting to gender and relationship stereotypes – boys like bikes and girls like buggies, there are crotch grabs and slut drops, macho men and objectified women.

While the opening grisly newspaper headlines promise something dark, Massimiliano Angioni and Francesco Saitta tend towards the comic in their performances. There’s usually a punchline or a comic conclusion to each scene and yet most of the scenes drag on, so that it takes a while to actually reach this conclusion. But Teatro In Centro have created a playful and thoughtful piece that uses different techniques to look at not just love, but the jealousy and misery that sometimes go along with it.

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