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Adelaide Fringe 2013

The Book of Loco

Alirio Zavarce and Sasha Zahra in assn with Loose Cannon Art Services.

Genre: Mainstream Theatre

Venue: Tandanya Theatre, 253 Grenfell Street, Adelaide


Low Down

The Book of Loco examines rational madness and gives insight into how a moment in life is validated by one’s own perspective. The actions of many in this world may surprise or deceive us, like the cheating lover or the suicide bomber, but for them there is rationale; a rational madness. 


As you enter the theatre, you pass through the corridor of boxes and then you turn a corner and enter a space. More boxes surround the walls, boxing you in – so to speak. The stage is bleak, bare and minimal with rows of school chairs set out for the audience. It is a waiting room.

Upon entry, a lone man sits, waiting. What he is waiting for we don’t know. This lone man, played by the talented Alirio Zavarce, humbly repositions himself in the various empty seats as the audience enters looking for their own. Although this takes some time, the mood is delightfully uncomfortable and awkward at best. Do we talk? Do we interact?  

Zavarce has cleverly written and performed a collection of stories stored in the form of scribbles and notes in his collection of personal diaries based on his own world experiences. They are recalled through his perspective. Delivered in both monologue and interactive fashion as audience members are invited to engage in dialogue in particular sections of the performance. All this is well directed by Sasha Zahra and it is evident the pair have worked together over a number of years to bring this work to life as it delves deep into private traumas while being interjected with hints of laughter. As audience members, we are caught up in these stories and taken through a heart-felt journey, often connecting Zavarce’s world with our own.

As Zavarce switches from actor to character, stopping the action to "get it right", he practices in front of the audience how he wants to tell his story. Once he is ready to go again, everything is metaphorically put back in order with the ritual of combing one’s hair then throwing the comb away. Just how many combs were in Zavarce’s pocket? I wouldn’t know!

In a world made up of boxes, we see a life compressing and expanding as we share in the highs and lows of Zavarce traversing across nations and passing through stories of losing his loved ones. The earlier bleakness of the waiting room disappears, as a wall of boxes explode from their fixed position and fall to the floor representing a terrorist attack in an airport. Others become elements of costume and props and a few reveal hidden pathways. This is accompanied by visual and audio multimedia bringing to life the familiar “in case of an emergency” jargon, images of Zavarce’s family and more.

As he takes us on a expedition through his own personal madness, which is thought provoking, gripping and funny, Zavarce does well to juxtapose his trauma with that of world events like the fall of the twin towers; reminding us that relative to our own lives, trauma can be epic.

We soon realise that there is a little bit of rational madness in us all, and that’s okay!


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