JOYCE MCMILLAN on VISION/ARIA (Palazzo at the Tron Theatre, Glasgow) for The Scotsman 15.6.09

3 stars ***

SOMEONE ONCE described the Jerry Springer television show as the one where two women who look like Naomi Campbell fight over a man who looks like an artichoke.  Well,  Palazzo’s Vision/Aria, which played briefly at the Tron over the weekend, is a show in which a woman with the looks and presence of Aphrodite inexplicably decides to explore the world of love and desire with two blokes who look like her kid brother’s spotty schoolfriends; and it is truly depressing, in the year 2009, to come across a show which, in its physical presentation, so unquestioningly assumes that the object of desire must be female, the gaze of lust and yearning almost always male.

That chronic imbalance aside, though, Vision/Aria is a bold and promising show, which uses Roland Barthes structuralist meditations on love as the basis for a fragmented but powerfully theatrical 75-minute exploration of desire and loneliness.  Some of the sequences are full of youthful pretetiousness, and others slide towards self-referential student-drama sniggering.

But many of the ideas, in Flora Pitrolo’s production, are beautiful and dangerous; there’s a Cocteau-like obsession with the phone that never rings, a farewell letter from an unrequited lover, a blazing half-naked version of Blondie’s Call Me, broken up and reinvented.   And Stefanie Ritch, at the centre of the show, gives a memorably gorgeous and compelling performance, both vocally and physically; although one in which she’s too often presented as a pouting sexual icon for the blokes, rather than a suffering, loving human being in her own right.


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