«The psychopomp» that touches the soul. Calabrian production in Milan


By John

It's all there already in the title, “The Psychopomp”, where an almost obsolete term from classical culture takes us back to the deities who were believed to accompany souls on the journey from life to death. And there is that suffix “psycho”, which reminds us of everything we have understood, always about our souls as well as our minds, from Freud onwards. The show, produced by Scena Verticale di Castrovillari, written, directed and well performed by Dario De Luca, together with a fundamental Milvia Marigliano, already honored with awards, arrived for the first time in Milan, in the season of the Teatro Menotti.

Unfortunately – it must be said – the relevance of this text which talks about euthanasiaalready strong upon its debut in Calabria in 2019, on the eve of Covid, has become extreme today, when a wavering Parliament is unable to legislate on the subject despite the warning from the Constitutional Court.

De Luca's show (protagonists a mother and a son, removed from the pains of life and closed in their respective solitudes) has a theatrical value in itself, but it is clear that our time of uncertainty accentuates meanings and circumstances, broadens horizons, it involves the audience, even if in the tragic finale the transparent window panel is moved to the proscenium not by chance. In other words: we all tend to believe that certain things only happen to others, “we feel sorry for them” without being completely involved.
Already the scenography (also by De Luca)! Essential and significant: a daybed that takes us back to psychoanalysis sessions, the mobile panel already mentioned, a record player which, giving presence to the third protagonist who hovers dead, underlines the importance of music (sound by Hubert Westkemper): first it introduces us suddenly in the story with the famous incipit of «Thus Spoke Zarathustra» by Strauss and then it becomes ambient with «Music for Airport» by Brian Eno (the author explained: «Music as ignorant as it is interesting»), when euthanasia takes shape on the stage. The scene, in a flash preceding the beginning (lighting by Mario Giordano), appears in all the dimension of solitude, recalling Hopper's famous paintings or even the long-suspended restlessness of Italian “magical realism”.
They are masterful touches, it must be said, and Milvia Marigliano is the prophetess of this restlessness that bounces from the stage to the audience throughout the show. She is not afraid to go over the top in recounting her pain as a mother who has lost a son and who has been abandoned by the other, tired of no longer being “seen” in the face of her brother's illness. She does it because the chamber drama becomes archetypal in the manner of Greek tragedies (it's the magic of theater) and a Cassandra that she sees beyond is even today ignored despite her truths. The mother finds her son again when, in search of euthanasia which she deems necessary for his psychological pathologies (another topic under discussion), she discovers that he has become a nurse who gently accompanies terminally ill patients to their deaths. The unexpected (but perhaps not) ending does not allow it to be revealed, but the intense applause that rewards it has an important meaning of emotional participation (without forgetting that panel that leaves the pain only to those who truly experience it).