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But Why? Ma perché? performed by Marcello Magni

Marcello MagniThe Print Room at the Coronet played host to the Italian Theatre Festival in partnership with the Italian Cultural Institute in London. As part of the festival, But Why? Ma Perché? is a charming if unstructured collection of stories, deftly spun by performer Marcello Magni. It’s not so much a play as it is an experience, one which was entertaining and enjoyable, if directionless.

Preceded by a thoughtful discussion between Ben Okri, Gilles Aufray, and Emanuele Trevi on writing for literature and theatre, the discussion added a great deal to the production. The importance of the communal was particularly highlighted in the discussion of what makes theatre-making unique, and it is with this context highlighted in the mind that Ma Perché is offered a deeper level of understanding.

Ma Perche follows a man who claims to be a relative of Nasrudin, the wise fool from Persia, who finds himself in front of a wall. Unable to reach his home, a series of stories unfold as he tries to make sense of his predicament, and understand just which side of the wall he is on.

While it is an enchanting premise, the audience too are left with little more than a wall against comprehension – there is enough circularity and call-back to the stories by the end that you don’t feel entirely disorientated, but it’s likely to frustrate many all the same, leaving you with very little to hold onto.

Gilles Aufray has written a charming sequence here, and the accompaniment by Oliver Barwell-Aufray adds light-heartedness as required, as well as depth to the creation of Nasrudin’s world. Magni is an engaging performer, who makes the simplest of movements rich with storytelling.

It’s a chaotic sequence, a full embodiment of the communal act of theatre-making. The absurdity feels like a very particularly Italian kind of humour, and makes for a unique and delightful evening.

3 Star Review

Review by Christina Carè

But Why? Ma perché?
An evening with Marcello Magni
Little sketches from stories: read, told and improvised on stage…

A man – a relative of Nasrudin, the wise fool from Persia – returns home after a long trip abroad to find himself in front of a wall. He has never seen a wall so big or so long. But why has a wall been built across the desert? He can no longer reach his home!

Trying to understand the absurd predicament in which he finds himself, our man tells stories about walls: solid ones like the one he finds himself in front of, invisible walls that separate reason and madness and inescapable ones between life and death. He asks himself: “Which side of the wall am I on?”

An evening created by Marcello Magni, Gilles Aufray (writing) and Oliver Barwell-Aufray (music) presenting a work in progress for a future show… in which anything could happen!


  • Christina Carè

    'Christina is just another Aussie in London, writing about the arts and signing up for all the weird performance productions the city has to offer. She is Content Editor at Spotlight and tweets from @christinacare.'

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