On stage in Messina the excellent Alveario and Marchetti. The seasons change, but maybe we don’t…


By John

We followed them with bated breath, those two old gentlemen, laughing at certain things, startled at others, with the dark fear of recognizing them, of recognizing ourselves (because the stage, in any case and always, is a place of revelations and recognitions). They are two widowers, in fact, who meet at the tomb of the woman who was the wife of one of them, David, and “companion” of the other, Edoardo – in a particularly difficult definition of the boundaries of this word, and, in extension, of the boundaries and meaning of every relationship and bond. The center and the key to everything seems to be her, the woman who escapes definitions, because in any case they all work: wife, friend, companion, object of love and regret, whore (the more sanguine of the two says it in a rush). , David), victim, executioner, the one who is chosen, the one who chooses, or rather does not choose. She who isn’t even on stage, except in the form of a ghost, or obsession, or reverie. This false triangle (but are there relationships that are not of complicated geometry very different from the elementary one we expect? And bye bye, Euclid…) is the crux of the show «The changes of season», on stage until tonight at the Teatro Vittorio Emanuele where it debuted with great success on Friday.
A show that combines a well-known text, which has been toured all over the world, and a staging that brings together an extraordinary group of Messina excellences, loved and appreciated throughout Italy: the performers Antonio Alveario (David) and Maurizio Marchetti (Edoardo)director Francesco Calogero, the production of Maurizio Puglisi for Nutrimenti Terrestri.

«The changes of season» is the new guise (translation and adaptation by director Calogero) of that «Mister Halpern & Mister Johnson» by Lionel Goldstein written in 1983 as a TV film (stars: Laurence Olivier and Jackie Gleason), which later became a worldwide successful theater show. Joseph Halpern is here David, a Jewish cardboard box manufacturer and trader, and Ernest Johnson is Edoardo, a retired accountant, foreign to Jewish culture. Which, let’s say it straight away, is perhaps the least perspicuous and significant “line” of the text for the Italian public (apart from the strict relevance that makes the few symbols of the Jewish faith of David’s family on stage differently “significant” today ), but serves in the economy of the narrative to better and more strongly mark the difference between the two protagonists: the pragmatic trader, accustomed to certainties, and the more sensitive and cultured accountant; the one who sings De Andrè and the one who is moved by «La traviata»; Maria Flora’s husband and Flo’s “secret companion”. For forty years. With carefully regulated meetings (never physical contact, at most holding hands) and marked by “seasonal changes”.

The ones we see in the scenario behind the two characters (an almost cinematic element, which we know is the director’s training and activity ground, with the collaboration of the visual artist Giovanni Bombaci), in which the image of Maria Flora “Flo” is the one, Botticellian but also femme fatale (and both are true) of Tania Luhauskaya: an avenue of trees where the seasons pass and fade, and where appears – like a ghost and a dream and a memory – the mysterious, elusive woman that Edoardo and David believed they knew deeply, and who perhaps deceived them both, or rather managed both of them , without choosing and taking the best of each for themselves (well done Maria Flora Flo, whoever you were: probably a third person, neither Maria Flora nor Flo, wiser and happier than these two poor souls, each drowned in their solitude).
And then perhaps more than the differences between the two – which little by little, in the consummate skill of the two excellent interpreters Alveario and Marchetti, capable of adding nuances to every line, impose themselves and drag us along (we side with Edoardo and his sensitivity, then with the impetuous David and his surprise, and then in reverse and again, while on stage they reveal themselves to us) – it matters how much they resemble each other, how little The seasons of relationships change, despite their continually shifting surface. And just as, perhaps, marriages can be just as many deceptive “glass houses”, just like the greenhouse in front of which the two meet, and we can be people all our lives about whom even those closest to us know little or nothing. Nothing.
An ancient theme, and never explored enough, given the attentive and emotional response of the public. To which a small note should be added: it was nice to see Messina’s embrace of “its” artists, because artists are a heritage of the placeswherever they are and go, and being able to call them back, gather them and embrace them, at least every now and then, is something that all communities should do, always.
The essential scenes are by Mariella Bellantone, the costumes by Cinzia Preitano, the lights (which shape the external and internal times) by Renzo Di Chio; Laura Giacobbe collaborated in the direction.