home / writing /misc /reviews /

Roberto Zucco

Playwright - Bernard-Marie Koltes
Company - Bedlam
Director - Daniel Alicandro
Venue Bedlam Theatre
Run ended 28th November

Robert Zucco is based on the real-life story of a young man who murdered his father, was locked up, but escaped and went on a killing spree. It's an unusual topic for a comedy, but then this is a very unusual play. The script is stilted but articulate, and continually flips from excellently witty comedy to matter-of-fact brutality. Unexpected characters spout eloquent philosophy in a way that feels distinctly french.

Koltes does not try to explain or excuse his anti-hero. Zucco is a cipher, by turns a cold-hearted killer and an inoffensive, quietly charming, boy. His strongest characteristic is a lack of identity. Koltes first got the idea for the play from seeing a wanted poster in the Paris metro in which four completely different pictures of the suspect were shown. Zucco worries that he might forget who he is, and when asked to identify himself, he gives no name but lists the people he has killed.

Zucco moves through a city of unpleasant people - pimps, bad parents and uncaring bystanders - all of them trapped in cold and loveless lives. Koltes is much harsher on these characters than on the murderer. Unfortunately their natures are often too stylised and exaggerated to be plausible. We do not recognise our world in his, and this severely limits the power of the play.

This weakness is not helped by some flaws in Daniel Alicandro's production. The heavily stylised script gives enough space for the company's inexperience to shine through. Nevertheless this production largely succeeds. The set is minimal but imaginative, and suits the play well. Crucially, Hannu Rajaniemi is most convincing in the lead role. The result is a strange and very interesting piece of theatre.

� Daniel Winterstein 29th November 2001


© Daniel Winterstein 1998-2008

This is a personal
site. For Daniel's
business activities,
please see: