This week brings us Sally Cookson’s stage adaptation of La Strada (Italian for The Road) at The Lowry and it’s a magical show of tragedy, charm, and sadness as well as moments of great humour and philosophical musings.
The story centres around the young and naive Gelsomina, sold by her impoverished mother to the brutish circus strongman Zampano, the tightrope walker Il Matto, The Fool and follows their journey on their search for the meaning of being alive. The Olivier Award nominated Director, Sally Cookson says “..using physical story telling, music and movement, we will be attempting to find a theatricality to re imagine this story of human suffering, longing and redemption.”
Having (shamefully) never watched the original Oscar winning film, I decided to keep it that way and attend the show on Monday without preconceived opinions as is the case when you know the plot of a famous story inside out.
Starring a multi talented cast of singing, dancing, trick-performing actors, La Strada is spectacularly entertaining from the get go. With live music and catchy songs performed by the actors along with the minimal yet striking set design, the show was alluring and had me in fits of laughter as well as moments of melancholy.
I am always eager and intrigued to discover a production’s set design and the how the skillful change of lighting and movement depicts a transition of scenes. The imaginative use of several tyres and a few wooden crates set in motion Zampano and Gelsomina’s journey on the road, while red and white striped sheets provides the circus backdrop for Il Matto as he masterfully plays the accordion whilst balancing tentatively on a unicycle.
A particularly touching and philosophical moment in the The Road is when Il Matto provides comfort to the disillusioned Gelsomina as she ponders her existence by exclaiming “Everything serves a purpose, even the stones.”
La Strada is performed at The Lowry from Monday 15 until Saturay 20 May 2017.
Directed by: Sally Cookson
Set and Costume Design: Katie Sykes
Music and Musical Direction: Benji Bower and Mike Akers
Lighting Design: Aideen Malone
Sound Design: Mike Beer
Cast: Gelsomina -Audrey Brisson, Zampano – Stuart Goodwin, Il Matto – Bart Soroczynski and Matt Costain, Fabrizio Matteini, Sofie Lybäck, Niv Petel, Niccolo Curradi, Tatiana Santini, Luke Potter and Tee Jay Holmes.