MDLSX – Project Arts Centre – Dublin Fringe Festival – Review
Dates Sep 15 – 16 @ 20:30 – Tickets €16/ €14 conc.
Duration 80 mins – Venue: Project Arts Centre, Space Upstairs
Photo: DIANE_ ilariascarpa
This was one of the international pieces that visited the festival. It is a natural for the Fringe Festival as the subject matter is somewhat complex. The piece starts with some early video footage of the performer Silvia Calderoni singing karaoke. It gives you a good insight into her appearance at the time. She is in her early teens and could be described as a slightly boyish young woman but nothing more. It is the later footage where the gap between what would clearly be described as male or female becomes more blurred.
The production uses excerpts from the 2002 Pulitzer Prize winning novel Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. The novel deals with three generations of a family history and their movement from Asia minor to their new home in Detroit. The play only uses the final generation of the story and tells us of Cal who is also the narrator of the book. Cal was brought up as a woman but was genetically a man.
Silvia recites the excerpts from the novel in Italian and a translation is shown on the back wall of the set. There is a long table at the back of the stage, containing a variety of odds and ends, which are utilised as props. One of these props is a computer which has a collection of songs which are played; 22 in total. These are mostly modern Indie rock songs and include such names as the Dresden Dolls, Talking Heads, Placebo and the Smiths. If you are so inclined, you can find the full playlist on Spotify here. The music works well to soundtrack the event, and Silvia could have easily made a career as a lead singer of a rock band, and certainly looks the part on stage.
The selection of passages from the book are well chosen. It is a rich tapestry and evocative of the time and the characters in the novel. Silvia also acts out elements from the book, turning herself into a mermaid at one point! The images projected onto the back wall continue to tell her own tale and the two stories are intermingled. Silvia carries a camera and microphone with her at all times, and these images are often used as projections also. It is a highly technical and creative show which blends multimedia with ease. It is hard to describe it as any one thing, as it is part rock concert, part monologue, but you have to learn to live with the ambiguity! A gender bending and blending trip into the world of Silvia Calderoni.