A Magical and Intellectual Drag Show Inspired by the Real Story of Alma Mahler
This year, I had the pleasure of seeing one of the Fringe’s most imaginative yet poignant shows, Alma, a Human Voice, performed beautifully at Summerhall (Old Lab). At first glance, you are introduced to a crime room, a “dark and bluish” room where “everything is white”. This crime scene will carry you suddenly through the human story of two women: on one side, Alma, who is the exceptional image of the soulful and truthful love; on the other side, the anonymous voice of a woman victim of the evils of love (inspired by Cocteaus’s The Human Voice). Between the two women is Oscar Kokoschka, a painter and, before this moment, a man dominated by the love of an independent and fleeting woman.
The extraordinary set, along with few props which characterise human femininity, was realised completely out of lamps of any shapes and heights creating the exaggerate reflection of the main plot. I can only describe the lighting of this show as magical, with the beams of impeccably placed spotlights playing the astonishing game of doubles. In this play, “doubleness” is the definition of reality: one can love freely and without constraints, another will be dominated by love. If we know what a woman is like when she is waiting for a phone call from her lover, how does a man live the same wait? We can only define the great uniqueness of dreams if we relate them to reality, as well as we can appreciate the immensity of Alma when we match her with the small-mindedness of a mediocre woman.
Inside this magnificent set, a wonderful interpretation performed by a male actor – Lorenzo Piccolo – who depicts at its best the feminine essence and the subtle contradiction that lies between love and its negation. The remarkable performance of this actor is worth noting; the comedic timing and his acting chops are undeniable. Furthermore, Director Alessio Calciolari has put together an amazing show with smooth fluidity throughout scenes, a clear focus, and a cohesiveness between Cocteau’s monodrama and Alma Mahler’s story, that is both impressive and unmatched. No word is wasted in this play, and even the smallest object is of the utmost importance.
I encourage everyone to go see this production. In this time of the year, hundreds of theatres in Edinburgh are putting on excellent shows, but I guarantee you won’t find one quite like the Nina’s Drag Queens’ rendition. If you want to escape from the hustle and bustle into the magical and timeless bedroom of Alma Mahler, then come out and support these fine company!
written by Carlo Lenoci