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Review of Mistero Buffo by Dario Fo at the Cockpit Theatre

Mistero BuffoLyto Triantafyllidou’s adaptation of Dario Fo’s acclaimed and extensive Mistero Buffo is thankfully a concise one, constructed aptly for these times. Fresh from an award-winning tour in the USA, the production is in town for just four days, swooping in to tease some Mediterranean wisdom, before perhaps wisely jetting off once again.

The original piece, which is comprised of over 25 plays, is one of Fo’s defining works. An all-encompassing and unrelenting assault on the hypocrisy of the powerful and domineering – predominantly the Catholic Church – it was decidedly controversial at its release, and thus maintains its prescience to this day.

Triantafyllidou’s first success was cherry-picking three of the most appropriate pieces from this faux medieval work and creating a subliminal yet succinct entity, fit for the contemporary world. Exploring such biblical stories as The Last Supper and the Resurrection of Lazarus through the lens of an observing clown, the Giullare, it examines the ways in which power is utilised and confined by those that possess it. Welcomely, the production retains all of the poetry, wonder and surrealism of its forebear, whilst adding the requisite nuance and self-awareness of modern times – all in a condensed hour-long version.

Of course, the defining factor in a successful inception of this solo piece is selecting the right vessel through which to channel Fo’s musings. This was the Greek director’s masterstroke, as in Panos Vlahos, she has acquired a veritable one-man wrecking machine. Vlahos turns in such an imperiously dexterous and entertaining performance – shifting from character to character with such facility and physical fortitude – that you are transfixed in a way that is unusual for such an abstruse work.

As the play necessitates, Vlahos was glaringly bereft of any emotional shortcomings, dancing between elation, levity and despair with ample verve and guile. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was made clear in the ensuing Q&A with the pair that the conception was unquestionably a joint effort, and is laden with varying improvisations night to night.

In that sense, another deft and refreshingly brazen touch was to incorporate their mother tongue into the proceedings with such subtlety and anonymity, you would think it was in fact in its original Italian form. This decision not only assisted the duo in making the piece their own but also helped cement the integral point of the play.

Mistero Buffo is all about championing the downtrodden and the oppressed, lending them a voice that not only tells their story but does so with a comedic tact. As confirmed by Triantafyllidou and Vlahos themselves, this was a pertinent reflection of their own inherent position as Greeks in the industry. Not only did the linguistic modification display this disparity, but as the performances rack up, it will surely also serve to diminish it.

4 stars

Review by Wilf Dutton

Mistero Buffo, written in 1969 by Nobel Prize-winning playwright Dario Fo, is a political exploration of popular Medieval Mysteries, consisting of several scenes re-imagining stories from the Bible and establishing new protagonists against religious rule. This theatrical realization of Dario Fo’s essays by Lyto Triantafyllidou is an exploration of the Last Supper hosted by a clown, the Giullare. Through spanning monologues, soliloquies, storytelling, dialogues and crowd scenes, the Giullare shares his revolutionary message and redefines the notion of power. Actor Panos Vlahos uses his technical ease to perform a number of different characters in a one-hour theological and political statement.

Mistero Buffo
by Dario Fo.
Translated by Ed Emery
with Panos Vlahos
directed by Lyto Triantafyllidou
(A Q&A with the actor and the director will take place after all the shows).
‘Mistero Buffo’ is presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH LTD.
A modern clown entertains his audience by performing a provocative Comical Mystery.

A clown’s provocative, comical mystery
WED 28 FEB 2018 to SAT 3 MAR 2018


1 thought on “Review of Mistero Buffo by Dario Fo at the Cockpit Theatre”

  1. Ioanna Karatzaferi, writer- you may You tube me

    Very interesting both articles and let’s hope you will have invited
    them an other or more times

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