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The art of reciting verse: La Mama

James May

EXPLORATIONS SEASON: During 'The art of reciting verse' Dom Di Luca stood within a circle of laurel leaves which he burnt to release an intoxicating aroma which the audience soaked up delightfully.
The art of reciting verse: La Mama
It felt like a chilly Winter's night when I arrived at LaMama to check out the latest Explorations Season which offers budding artists the chance to 'explore, create, develop and consolidate' their own ideas – an annual feast of 'short, surprising experiments by accomplished theatre-makers and complete newcomers.' A small group of mature, scholarly folk were rugged up around a crackling fire in the courtyard, sipping wine and smoking cigarettes. Indeed, the weather made it hard to conjure up the Mediterranean landscape - the vision of Dom Di Luca, the lead protagonist, who asked us to imagine Mt Parnassus to our left and the seaside to our right. Nonetheless, the mood was certainly auspicious with the intimate theatre bathed in candlelight, hugging the performer who stood within a circle of laurel leaves. He burnt these now and then to release an intoxicating aroma which the audience soaked up delightfully. At one point Di Luca called upon everyone to step on stage and stretch their legs. This made perfect sense as one was able to connect with the performer and the divinity of the space. Perhaps a few simple paintings or light and sound could've been used to evoke the seaside atmosphere more strongly. Being a novice to these literary works, it's difficult for me to do this performance justice. Having said that, it was obvious that Dom Di Luca is an avid lover of the classics and he delivers the material with a great deal of passion and enthusiasm. He certainly put his heart and soul into the recital. He was deeply absorbed in every word and displayed a genuine adoration for the verse and mythology around it. To his credit, he also did his best to engage the audience and take them on a journey. He wanted us to truly grasp the poignancy of the works. Among the audience, there seemed to be a mix of those who shared his passion and those, like myself, who went along for the ride and admired his passion. It was hard not to as Di Luca immersed himself in every verse of lyrical language, closing his eyes, stepping into character - his fingers quivering as though they were plucking the strings of an imaginary instrument. His hands seemed to vibrate with an electric pulse – reaching a dramatic crescendo at the end of the night. He was particularly stirred by an opera score mid-way through the show and it was deeply moving to witness his emotional response. Although I don't know Italian or Spanish, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to him recite these texts; the tone of voice, rhythm of language and the imagining of each story. I was genuinely engaged at these points – more so than when he offered detailed explanations in English which I found lengthy, technical and hard to follow. Di Luca did get a little lost in the final verse. However, the audience was far more touched by his sincere apologies and his fervent desire to start over and give the verse the full justice it deserved. Funnily enough, upon his return to the stage he pronounced that the translation of the forgotten verse was something to the effect of: 'The true nature of divinity is hard to express in words.' The art of reciting verse LaMama: Explorations Season Friday Oct 15
What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

James May is a freelance writer of theatre, short fiction and journalism. He's had a number of short works produced and material published in magazines and anthologies.