La Strada UK Tour Cast
Audrey Brisson (Gelsomina), Stuart Goodwin (Zampano), Bart Soroczynski (Il Matto).
La Strada UK Tour Review
La Strada, which bills itself as a musical adaption, is based on the 1954 Federico Fellini film of the same name. Its plot is a somewhat dismal affair. Gelsomina (Audrey Brisson) a naive young woman is sold to a strongman, Zampano (Stuart Goodwin), who spends his days scouring the streets, performing his act in want of money. Their master-assistant relationship is abusive at times but remains the one constant throughout the plot as Gelsomina ultimately searches for meaning in her life.
In terms of structure, La Strada sits nicely between a play and your standard musical offering. Benji Bower’s haunting score is performed by a group of actor-musicians who are one stage throughout; but the music never drives the narrative, the lead characters barely sing. Instead, largely without words, it naturally enhances Mike Aker’s dialogue sometimes building on the characters emotions, other times simply adding colour to proceedings.
This sense of musicality is mimicked by the ever present ensemble who set the scene with intricately choreographed movement, though I’m not sure it can really be classified as dance. At times they act metaphorically as the ocean or Zampano’s motorbike – depicting elements of the scene that are outside the scope of La Strada’s reasonably empty set of atmospheric telegraph poles and ropes. Other times they’re present in the scene as their human selves, forming the crowd in the bar where Zampano and Gelsomina spend away a lucrative days work or the crowd for their act. Either way, it’s their collective movement and ever changing roles that drive the piece forward.
Brisson plays Gelsomina with a highly endearing quality, the audience is always on the side of her kind brand of innocence as opposed to the worldliness of Goodwin’s Zampano. You never quite know whether they’re on each other’s side meaning their turbulent relationship is majestic to watch. As is Bart Soroczynski as Il Matto, a clown, who’s rather impressive on a unicycle!
Overall, La Strada is an interesting piece of theatre that’s rather difficult to pin down and define. Regardless, its innovative staging, affecting score and captivating performances accumulate to an infiltrating, emotional crux. Overall, I give La Strada a rating of 4/5.