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Franco Cordelli, But is it Hitler or the Wizard of Oz?

Back to top   But is it Hitler or the Wizard of Oz?
      Franco Cordelli, Il Corriere della Sera, 2008 January 20th

Luigi de Angelis, the director of the theatre group Fanny & Alexander, works by series of shows. After several ones dedicated to “Ada” by Nabokov, and after Heliogabalus, now here is Him, the first of a new series on The wizard of Oz, or rather on her protagonist, the young girl Dorothy. There is an extraordinary, obsessive, nearly morbid continuity here. The archetypal character could be Lewis Carrol's Alice. With Ada the theme of androgyny becomes explicit. This theme reappears in Artaud's Heliogabalus, with less subtle connotations of ambiguity. Even in a recent show dedicated to Landolfi the same theme resounds, based on the figure of the “nippies”, the simulacra.

In Him the surprise is extreme. Last week I defined Molly Sweeney, De Rosa's show inspired by Brian Friel's comedy, as very powerful: in this play each linguistic stratum was superimposed on the other, obviously modifying it. But the languages were placed in a vertical way, in a manner of speaking. In Him, what we see is as simple as it is complex, whirling, asymmetrical to gain knowledge of the form which we are attending. On the back wall we can watch “The Wizard of Oz” by Victor Fleming. On the empty stage there is just one actor, on his knees, that is Marco Cavalcoli. In front of him, on the ground, a little computer (I think it is a computer where the images of the movie, synchronized with the images that the audience are watching, appear). Cavalcoli whirls a conductor's baton.

But what's remarkable is that Cavalcoli, Him, is no less than Hitler. The brown suit, the ground-colored shirt, the brown tie and, of course, the thin moustache and the straight hair falling on his forehead clearly identify him. The mind immediately goes to a identical, or similar, image by Maurizio Cattelan. Of this Hitler, named Him, there are two or three copies. One of them is at the Castle of Rivoli. It’s a statue, of natural size, in fibreglass, with a fake skin on the face and the hands. The dress is the same one, or nearly, of Cavalcoli's.

The only difference between these two simulacra is that Cattelan's one wants to be watched, while the one in the show watches us, or rather he acts, he conducts an imaginary orchestra, in other terms he isn’t just a puppet, he is an actor.

The excellence of the show doesn’t consist only in the bare overturning, ironical and vague, of Cattelan's irony, his gallows humour. Here we are in front of a critical interpretation of the text that comes from the world of the visual arts and, in a vertiginous blending of languages, of Fleming's movie. There isn’t only Cattelan. There is also, or first of all, the wizard of Oz,  that famous charlatan for children, for the children that we all are.

And who can be, in the language of Fanny & Alexander, the prince charlatan, that childish, demented wizard, if not Hitler, Him? Being absent the reduction of the criminal to a burlesque character, this Hitler who is in contrast to the purity of Dorothy (her Heliogabalus!) isn't Hitler anymore, but the artificer of an extraordinary proof, that is Marco Cavalcoli.

By dint of excesses, the actor reduces his own character's power. He is a wizard in every respect, that is he leads the game - of homesickness and of the escape from home, of criminal desire and of repentance (on your knees) - also using the voice: in the original English version of the movie, all the voices are his own one. Our real home, he tells us, is what we do of ourselves when we are adults, when, like Dorothy, we are homeless.


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Grey Speech | WEST | NORTH | SOUTH | Kansas | AMORE (2 atti) | Dorothy | Heliogabalus | Vaniada | Aqua Marina | Ardis II | Ardis I

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