La Veritá -Compagnia Finzi Pasca
2 March 2016, St James Theatre, Wellington
Reviewed by Leah Maclean
Going into something marketed as dance, cirque, theatre AND spectacular it can be difficult to hazard what to expect. Then throw in surrealist icon, Salvador Dali, and there’s no question that you are about to witness something beyond your imagination. The visiting multi-talented, Swiss based troupe - Compagnia Finzi Pasca - is made up of 12 insanely skilled performers. Acrobats, contortionists, musicians, clowns/comedians, dancers and hula-hoopers, with most of them being talented in more than one area. And then there’s playwright/director, Daniele Finzi Pasca, who truly showed his creative aptitude with La Veritá.
The framework of the show is one of Dali’s disturbingly, beautiful paintings - a backdrop created for the ballet, Mad Tristan, performed by New York’s Metropolitan Opera in 1944. The audience is introduced to the show by an eccentric clown, Rolando Tarquini, standing before the massive scale, bona-fide Dali canvas trying to auction it off, and when the canvas lifts the show truly begins. Our ears were treated to vaudevillian style music which set the tone of La Veritá perfectly. Energetic, slapstick and eccentric. Men and women pranced around in feathery showgirl costumes, bumping into one another and trying to steal the stage. This was a somewhat clichéd clowning, but it encouraged barrels of laughter from the audience. As prominent as the humour was, it didn’t deter from the surreal, almost nightmarish, Dali-esque theme. There was the recurring rhinoceros heads, sometimes slyly in the background, there were the oversized dandelions, and we cannot forget the slightly disturbing Dali masks the performers wore as they danced in white tutus. Then of course the contortionist, who twisted his body in every which way, disturbing and wowing the audience, could very well have been an inspiration for one of Dali’s bizarre (disjointed) works.
Daniele Finzi Pasca was quoted in a recent article as saying, “It’s like a language of dreams. We do strange things and there’s nothing concrete and no linear plot. The surrealism of Dali and the language of the theatre – together they’re a good match.” And indeed they are a great match; La Veritá is a dream that stays with you. With beautiful aerial work done on spinning DNA like rigs, and velveteen red ribbons, a combination of ballet and juggling, gymnastics done atop a grand piano with a gorgeous musical accompaniment and extravagant costumes. Watching these amazing artists preforming death defying acts, you shudder to wonder what kind of accidents they’ve been in. Crushed by the large hamster wheel? Fallen from a suspend frame or accidentally flung from a partners arms? Accidents or no they are wildly talented and beyond professional.
The combination of acrobatics, comedy, physical theatre, dance, music and art was an absolute rollercoaster in every sense of the word. It was exhilarating, fun and at times terrifying. Standout performances came from everyone, but especially David Menes who was delightfully hilarious, sweet and multi-talented. The audience was charmed and no doubt are still talking about the spectacle that was La Veritá.