Occasionally you witness a performance that reminds you of what “drama” once meant and what “theatrics” once looked like before both words were hijacked by a culture that leads such melodramatic everyday lives that we call it all drama.
One such performance is that of Sandro Colarelli in Daniel Evans’ sumptuous adaptation of the gothic short story The Lady of the House of Love which opened at Metro Arts last Friday evening. It’s achingly simplistic in every aspect of design and that’s it’s genius; Daniel Evans reminds us of the descriptive power of simple words, Andrew Meadows reminds us of the enigma of a mere shaft of light, Jake Diefenbach shows us the emotion of a single piano note or the darker trickle from a violin and Colarelli reminds us of the sheer delight of watching a remarkable performer simply tell a story. Colarelli’s performance of The Lady of the House of Love is not done justice by being referenced as merely an ‘adaptation’ or ‘cabaret’; the story is not acted out but rather vocalised but it is so much more than that. Colarelli is a captivating minstrel who holds court with velvet-tongued tales of a far away time.
Author Angela Carter once rejected a description of her collection of stories (from which the Lady harks), as adult fairy tales and it’s easy to understand why; Adult fairy tales bring to mind lewd bastardisations of children’s nursery rhymes in order to mock whereas Carter’s stories are about delving into the complexities and even possibilities that sit beneath some of the greatest characters that have been conceived in the minds of humans and although at times darkly humorous, there is no mockery here – more an ironic romance. Said to invoke the stories of both Sleeping Beauty and Jack and the Beanstalk – The Lady Of The House Of Love immediately brings to my mind the vivid first imaginings of Dickens tragic Miss Havisham and Colarelli’s ability to swing between the deep voiced narrator and the shrivelled singing lady is awe-inspiring. Although when his voice and musical accompaniment (played live by John Rodgers) are both in full swing the acoustic limitations of the Sue Benner space become unfortunately obvious.
Without change of costume, the vision of Havisham is completely skewed in another direction by Colarelli’s shape-shifting voice and we realise that Carter has plucked Dickens and peppered him with Bram Stoker and Miss Havisham of this incarnation is a vampiress “the Mistress of disintegration” she shrieks; feeding shamefully on strangers that pass through town. She lives out her days, listlessly flipping the eternal hand of tarot – always the same cards – La Papesse, La Mort, La Tour Abolie – until one day, an opposite being arrives – a beautiful, young, blue-eyed soldier on a bicycle – a being of change.
Bereft of a language apt enough to describe this theatrical offering; simply put – Sandro Colarelli is one of those vessels that wonderful characters come to inhabit. At times enchanting, at times deliciously dark – and all the terrain in between are masterfully toured by Colarelli – our spiritual guide perhaps to The Lady of the House of Love. Continuing at the Metro Arts until August 3rd and just $20 per ticket – The Metro team have once again provided unbelievably high quality entertainment for next to nothing. “Suivez moi….” The lady teases “Follow me”.