To interpret Woody Allen it is a very complex thing, let alone bring it on stage, to the theatre. She tried Tullio Solenghi with his new show entitled “God is dead, and I don’t feel so good either“, on the stage of the Theater of the Marsi of Avezzano last January 31st. Considered, with good reason, the genius of stars and stripes comedy, by the most emulated but by no one ever realistically equaled, the one who was born Allan Stewart Königsberg has been, since 1965, the year of his debut on the big screen (with the film “What’s new Pussycat?”), a reference model for anyone who loves auteur laughter.
His lyrics are as intelligent as few others, full of references of the highest cultural level (from Marx to Freud, from psychoanalysis to painting, from philosophy to science) but able to fit perfectly with a popular national humor where nonsense, often deliberately cheap if not provocative, spicy but not vulgar, rational but often surreal. Of his neuroses, phobias and fears, Allen has made his own winning recipe, mixing them to give life to a unique and inimitable style.
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To testify there are about seventy years of writings, from the primordial beginnings to The New Yorker, when he was a young student who made a living selling his jokes to the newspaper, up to the various books published, all full of his refined cultural wit: and it is to the latter that Solenghi refers. In this show, the Genoese actor reinterprets some hilarious aphorisms or short stories taken from the literary works of Woody Allen, accompanied on stage by Ensemble nests who has the task of performing several of the most famous songs that make up the soundtracks of the films of the New York actor, director and screenwriter. Thus we go from “Hasidic tales” to the parody of the Holy Scriptures taken from “Know-it-all”, to the hilarious “Bestiary” taken from “Cite Himself”, interspersed with pieces by George Gershwin, Tommy Dorsey, Dave Brubeck, with a special tribute to Woody’s mentor, the great Graucho Max, evoked by Klezmer music.
There were all the premises for an intriguing show, on the other hand the material on which Solenghi was able to work was a guarantee of absolute quality. But nevertheless, we find it hard to say that the staging hit the mark, where it was not frankly disappointing. Our judgment, it should be specified, refers exclusively to what we saw during the evening in Avezzano where the painful notes, alas, were not lacking at all. The actor appeared listless, not very engaging in his gait in the readings and with his eyes perpetually fixed on the lectern, even little intrigued in seeking an interaction with the public which, for its part, did not always appreciate a narration that was at times hasty and not very effective in the salient points.
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The aphorisms taken from the aforementioned works have been divided by theme (death, sex, psychoanalysis) thus giving the viewer the opportunity to better orient himself in Allen’s thought which, needless to say, makes you laugh even when he tries to pose as serious. The effectiveness and penetrating force of his comedy are imprinted in dozens of films and hundreds of thousands of quotes scattered throughout a career spanning more than sixty years.
But be careful, because, as mentioned at the beginning, playing Allen is not easy at all. Expressiveness, vocal inclination, body posture and physical approach to the screen and its interlocutors are among the main hallmarks of the New York genius, not incidental or marginal elements. All that Solenghi lacked in this circumstance.
The readings all appeared the same and monotonous, devoid of the actor’s physical involvement and, in several passages, told without real transport. A reading and nothing more, in short, of texts that would need a good dose of expressiveness and emotional involvement to make the most of it. Sincere or not, it matters little, the important thing is that it reaches the viewer and that the performer on stage is convincing in the role of an artist without equal. Difficult, very difficult task, on which we do not feel like questioning, but it is true that this cannot be a sufficient alibi to fulfill a subdued performance for the entire duration (one hour) of the show which made it look like brilliant sketches, some amazing gimmicks, nonsense from the local bar.
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Tullio Solenghi takes Woody Allen to the theatre, but the result is not what he hoped for – The Walk of Fame