Pugni Di Zolfo (Fists of Sulphur) - History of Caruso

Maurizio Lombardi

Zoo Southside

From 02 August 2013 to 24 August 2013

Rating: ****

Review by Graeme Strachan

At the end of a bitter and unexpected defeat, Vincenzo, a prize-fighting Sicilian boxer, sits alone pondering the moments in his youth that led him to this point, the sudden blackness of a rain of blows and a knock-out punch, contrasted with the claustrophobic terror of working in a sulphur mine.

Casting his mind back to his youth, he tells the story of growing up a caruso, a child labourer in a Sicilian sulphur mine at the turn of the 20th century.

Maurizio Lombardi's one-man show manages to overcome a suprising amount of barriers in bringing such a powerful and emotive piece to the Fringe. The original italian has been translated into English, and Lombardi performs in his second language admirably. Although it leads to occasional moments of stilted delivery, it makes the few moments spoken in italian all the more powerful.

The play is understandably physical considering the subject, and use of candles and a low table to create the heavy and imposing sense of being confined in a dangerous mine is highly effective.

There is a humanity on display in Pugni di Zolfo which is missing from many performances, a deeply-felt wrong and an anger towards a world which took for granted the lives of families while only caring for profit.

The very real history of the carusi, which is not so far removed from the exploitation of children around the world still today, echoes with meaning, and Lombardi's final tortuous litany of brokenhearted prayer certifies this as an international classic.