Winner of the 2013 Adelaide Fringe Festival Award for Best Theatre Production, The Book of Loco is a one-man show focussing on the madness of a man, and the life events that can push a person to such a mental state. Venezuelan born actor and writer, Alirio Zavarce, brings his challenging life-story to the stage to explain his supposed madness, but also raises the comparison between it and the “rational madness” that society accepts.
The show is a contrasting mixture of side-splitting comedy and the deep emotions of sadness, despair and anger. This is not for those looking for a light hearted break from the stresses of everyday life, as Zavarce discusses many painful factors of modern existence including; loss, death, pain and the evil capabilities of humanity. He challenges the audience with his theory about the “rational madness” found in the world, from terror attacks and racism, to consumerism, capitalism and politics.
The show’s narrative is purposely non-linear, as Zavarce acts out the scattered pages of a mad man’s thoughts. The show twists and turns, leaving the audience with no clue as to what will happen next, but Sasha Zahra’s strong directing prevents confusion and keeps the audience hungering for more. Zavarce’s major life events unfold through song and dance, anecdotal short stories, multi-media projections and audience interactions.
Zavarce continually breaks the fourth wall throughout the show, bringing the audience into his world of madness as a way of creating an understanding of his mindset. Through his audience interactions (involving re-enacting a break up and a capitalist valuation of a plate of faeces), combined with the cleverly inclusive lighting design (Chris Petridis), you really do feel as though you’re feeling Zavarce’s often painful experiences. In participating in this theatrical encounter with a traumatic life, you really can’t imagine how these experiences wouldn’t drive him mad; it becomes an understandable madness.
The clever set design (Jonathon Oxlade) and seemingly chaotic but highly organised lighting help to deliver Zavarce’s strong challenge to our perception of madness in modern society. Walls of tall, brown boxes provide an interactive background for the story, while the constantly altering lighting and use of emotive multi-media (Chris More) and music bring interesting elements to the stage that heighten and illuminate his story.
Zavarce is a highly talented actor, achieving what many others fail to create in a one-man show. Not once are you bored or sick of his singular presence, but instead remain curious about what he will do next. He is a charismatic storyteller, whose dramatic facial expressions, incredible energy and constant movement keep you interested throughout the entire show.
Although often funny, this is a strong, thought-provoking performance that is recommended to those who want to be challenged by theatre.
Reviewed by Georgina Smerd
Venue: Space Theatre, Festival Drive, Adelaide CBD
Season: 14 – 22 August
Duration: 70 minutes (no interval)
Tickets: $24.00 – $30.00
Bookings:Official BASS website or 131 246