Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Pippo Delbono
Musée Calvet
Tuesday July 18, 6pm

Actor and director Pippo Delbono is a favorite with Avignon festival goers and considering his latest performance, you would be forgiven for suspecting that anything he comes up with will bet met with a standing ovation.
In a highly unusual setup, the so-called "lecture-performance", Delbono takes the stage all by himself, sits at a table, and proceeds to ham about, blending personal memories and monologues from his previous shows, including beautiful passages by Pier Paolo Pasolini or Shakespeare. At the very end of the performance, Delbono asks the audience, for the sake of his mother, not to write anything about what he has said and thus I comply.
This makes for a very theatrical performance: if it cannot be recorded in any way, the only way to know what it is all about is to actually sit in the audience and listen to Delbono. One walks away with a unique gift of confidence, one bestowed on us live, free of any mediation, by the artist, in the flesh.
At the same time, I couldn't help but feel frustrated when considering what I might call Delbono's sloppiness. For instance, he read the monologues from print-outs, having apparently not deemed it necessary to memorize them. Moreover, this was my first Delbono performance, so it was all new to me, but I thought those who had already attended such shows as "Rabbia" or "Henry V", excerpts of which Delbono read, were most likely disappointed to sit through reruns.
Delbono is a mesmerizing, moving performer, and the French just love his Italian-ness, but if another artist had thus taken the stage and come up with such a loose construction of an act, he would have been called a dilettante.

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