Edinburgh Fringe 2012
A naked woman sits on a small platform around 2 and half meters high, she has a microphone and bright red lips. The Shit is a monologue with guts that speaks of one woman’s attempt to make it, the accumulating factors of family, culture and the industry drive her to insanity. A completely believable tale that is sickening as reality, the journey of the text and the outstanding performance makes it an overwhelming hour!
A naked woman sits on a small platform around 2 and half meters high; she has a microphone and bright red lips. The Shit is a monologue with guts that speaks of one woman’s attempt to make it. The monologue highlights the accumulating factors of family, Italian culture and the industry that drive her to insanity. A completely believable narrative that is sickening as reality, the journey of the text and the outstanding performance makes it an overwhelming hour!
The writing is raw and poetic; ‘all by himself!’ she says talking about standing at the edge of the yellow line on the train platform and contemplating jumping off. A philosophical point arises about the strength of suicide, of deciding to take ones life all by themselves, without someone shouting ‘Jump! Jump!’ – that doings it all by yourself is something to be proud off, something that you will be remembered for. The desperate need to be known, by all means possible, to be recognised is a running theme through out the writing, and is repeated ‘they will recognise me and I’ll say YES! It’s ME! it’s ME’.
The female character is built as she exposes her whole self to us, her farther dies and she has an admiration for his decision to take his own life. She recollects him taking her to the aquarium rather than to church, to tell her that the male dolphins rape the female dolphins and the female octopuses will eat their own tentacles. This information thrills her, this self-destruction and female suffering and violence enthralls her. Here we are posed some factors of the feminine position, how sex, violence and destruction is within the female across species.
The writing is risky and doesn’t leave any disgusting stone unturned, she tells us of her first sexual encounter at 13, being forced to give her retarded class mate a blow job – describing that as woman she felt compelled even though the thought disgusted her. This strange complex of a young woman coming to terms with sexual pressure and abuse. She seems to have developed this self-destructive nature early and this then carries through to her career aims of being an actress, an industry where the exchange of sexual favors can supposedly get you far.
The theme of self-destruction and control, that is begun with the power of decision in taking ones own life is culminated in the climactic end. The woman is plumping herself up for an audition for an advert. She feeds herself and does not got to the toilet, she holds it in, and she gets stomach cramps that are unbearable. The night before the audition her body fails her and she defecates herself on the sofa, she is in panic, she is no longer plump, and so in a fit of desperation, she eats her shit – she eats her father in the shit, she eats her country in the shit, she eats the retarded school mate in the shit. The shit becomes everything in her life that has accumulated into her current being. She eats it all.
Silva Gallerano’s performance is absolutely outstanding, her voice control is mesmerising as she holds up this quivering nervous speech as the main narrative, to then slip into controlled and sexy, to deep and menacing, to the retarded, the difference between voices is so extreme – amazingly skillful. The physical conduct of the piece is minimal, she moves around on the platform, striking powerful gestures as she screams of being recognised – the physicality is very engaging. Her naked body adds to the exposure of the text, her body being subject of the story at many points, her thighs, the mouth, and her ass. Her delivery is flawless; she is a phenomenally strong performer.
The structure of the show breaks the monologue into parts, it drives towards an outburst leaving us quite stunned and then the lights fade. In the darkness you can make her out just breathing for a moment and having a drink of water. These breaks feel important for both the performer to regain composure and for us to digest all that we have heard and be ready for the next session. It is well considered and attentive to the experience of the audience.
I felt extremely excited about this piece as it brings playwriting into the reckless world of performance art, of being aggressive about life and not avoiding the shit that’s out there. It takes the moment of performance and shakes it rotten. The stark set and the naked woman is a style that prepares us for something all exposing of humankind. This style did seem to remove the ability for emotional engagement whilst watching, as the text and performance is somehow distant in its aggression, exposure and overwhelming visual. I left a little stunned and thrilled but with no personal emotional movement.
This is an epic piece of drama. Anyone who wants to see something real, written and performed without fear, should see this work.