Working on a Special Day

Gigliola Fantoni (trans Danya Taymor, Ana Graham & Antonio Vega)

Por Piedad Teatro

Assembly George Square

From 01 August 2013 to 26 August 2013

Rating: *****

Review by Louise Lewis

Dealing with tiny spaces, lack of time and money is a conundrum facing all fringe shows, but Por Pied Teatro twist this to their advantage inventing a chalk drawn world to charming effect.

Dressing onstage and laying out props as the audience enters, Ana Graham and Antonio Vega pull us into their hand-drawn world from the first instant. It’s 1938, fascism is rising, and on this monumental day Hitler visits Mussolini. Strains of Italian newsreel filter over the auditorium as the pair draw white chalk windows onto their black box studio to look out into the oncoming day.

Harassed housewife Sofia Loren (Graham) comically shouts for her children and husband, shooing the imaginary family round the house, in and out of bathrooms and finally out of the door. Her and Vega’s imitations of whiny children, banging doors and running footsteps transport you into this bustling family home with six children.

The pair’s thick Italian accents colour this humorously translated adaptation by Gigliola Fantoni of novel Una Giornata Paticolare. Ana embodies the worn but kind-hearted housewife wonderfully, and her confused response to her strange but appealing neighbour matches the audience's own attempts to decipher his contrary behaviour. Having burst into his apartment to rescue her escaped parrot, they unexpectedly spend the day together whilst everyone’s away at the rally.

Marcello Mastroianni’s (Vega) personal struggle that unfolds is unforeseen, and wonderfully timed. Vega builds a beautifully complex character, with humble charming manners one moment, before breaking all society’s dictated rules the next. His momentous outburst at Sofia is extremely powerful, making the final gruff acceptance of his fate all the more upsetting.

These two actors are a talented pair creating such a wonderfully paced self-directed drama. With their great eye for theatrical detail, Working on a Special Day is a must-see bittersweet drama.