dpm is a Birmingham-based freelancer with experience of arts and lifestyle features.
Walking a tightrope for survival
Based on Federico Fellini's classic film, La Strada tells the story of Gelsomina, a young girl sold by her mother to a travelling circus strong man. Naïve and trusting, Gelsomina agrees to leave her home to travel with Zampanó but she quickly discovers her new master is vicious, cruel and violent.
Directed by Sally Cookson, the production is impressionistic, drifting from one scene to another just as Gelsomina and Zampanó drift from place to place. Blending live music, circus skills, drama and physical theatre, there is a dream-like quality to the story with just a touch of magic from the circus.
Audrey Brisson is a charming Gelsomina. Wide-eyed and nervous, she is filled with a lack of self-worth, so much so that she will stick with Zampanó even when she experiences his hideous temper and his dishonesty. When offered the opportunity of an escape to a better world with the circus Fool she is too afraid to take that step.
Bart Soroczysnki's Fool is the first person to see Gelsomina's worth and tries to give her purpose. Combining tomfoolery and circus tricks with straight acting, Soroczynski is an audience favourite – his unicycle routine is a highlight of the show.
While Zampanó is a thoroughly dislikeable character, Stuart Goodwin plays the role with a touch of pathos which means the audience doesn't quite hate him.
The sets by Katie Sykes recall the circus ring with harnesses, chains and hoops as a backdrop and big top striped canopy over the stage.
Premiered at Coventry's Belgrade Theatre in February and at in the main house at Birmingham Repertory Theatre until 13 May, La Strada's UK tour still has Salford, Sheffield and London to play. For more details see lastradalive.com