When Barry Otto withdrew after the preview performances, due to exhaustion, Renato Musolino stepped in, script in hand, to save this one man show, Sue Smith’s new adaptation of Russian author, Leo Tolstoy’s novel of the same name.
Musolino, however, only glances at the script once in a while, and occasionally reads a particularly complicated passage, having memorised almost the entire eighty minute monologue already. That alone, though, is not the greatest feat that he has accomplished in only a few days. Within a couple of minutes of the play starting, one no longer notices that he has the script with him, such is the brilliance of his performance.
Director, Geordie Brookman, could not have asked for anything better than this. He and Musolino together have, in no time at all, pulled everything together into a well-polished piece of theatre that is a credit to them both, more so when one considers the complexity of the work.
Musolino is the Narrator, telling the story of a long train journey, the people in a particular compartment and of one main and his past. Although that might sound straightforward, anybody who has read the story will know that the narrator will also be required to play those people on the train, the man, Vasily Pozdnyshev, his wife, the aging servant, and the violinist who comes to play duets, including Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata, the Violin Sonata No. 9.
That entails a huge range of emotions as Pozdnyshev goes from his great love for his wife, to fits of jealousy, to intense fury, to deep remorse. Musolino gives us all of this and more in a bravura performance that completely belies the very short period of rehearsal. If it were not for the script one might think that he had been rehearsing for many weeks. Glancing around it could be seen that members of the audience were clearly moved by this superb performance.
Added to this was the music, played by pianist, Gabriella Smart, and violinist, Elizabeth Layton. Not only was there music by Beethoven, but also works by composers as diverse as Chopin, Phillip Glass, and Carl Vine. With such excellent musicians, it goes without saying that the music was played with the emotional intensity needed to add to the monologue. Taking it a step further were the gradually changing projections of the magnificent charcoal drawings of the much in demand local artist, Thom Buchanan, fitting together perfectly with Geoff Cobham’s stark industrial set and moody lighting. This is a total package with all elements locking together.
At the end of the performance, Musolino was given a greatly deserved standing ovation, and three curtain calls. That alone tells you that this should be on your Festival list.
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide.
Venue: State Theatre Company Scenic Workshop
Season: to 17th March 2013
Tickets: $25 to $55
Bookings: BASS 131 246 or here