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Last performed in Scotland two years ago and with a glowing response during its showcase at 2009s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, this is a rare opportunity to see Dario Fo’s monologue, performed by his close friend and leading interpreter of his work, Mario Pirovano, this Saturday, 8 October at the Centre.
Written by Fo against a background of political corruption in 1990s Italy, Francis The Holy Jester draws from historic texts and folk tales to bring to life medieval Italy in classic Commedia dell’arte style, which is both comic and moving.
Actor Mario Pirovano – Dario Fo’s former apprentice and close friend – performs with unique zest, playing cardinals, soldiers, farmers, traders, and the saint himself, in a virtuoso solo performance which engages directly with the audience, as the glowing reviews from previous performances confirm:
"This production is the most entertaining and funny history lesson you could hope to see, given a captivating performance by the charismatic Pirovano"
(★★★★★ British Theatre Guide)
"a great piece of theatre, it had mediaeval humour, pathos and real unique artistic craftsmanship."
Francis the Holy Jester is a one man show without props and without scenery, in which a whole range of characters from 13th Century Italy are brought to life: Popes and Cardinals, Dukes and Duchesses, soldiers on the battlefield, traders in the marketplace and St Francis himself.
The play includes episodes from the Saint’s life which are often unknown or overlooked: the tirade for peace in Bologna, the meeting of the wolf of Gubbio, meeting with Pope Innocent III to seek permission to preach and St. Francis going off to die, powerfully singing the Canticle to Sister Death.
The play offers four episodes from St Francis’ life, reflecting his role as a preacher of Christian values, but also his passionate work as an environmental activist and campaigner for social justice.
One of these episodes reconstructs an actual event, when St Francis spoke and performed to over 5,000 people in the main square in Bologna in August 1222. In this address, he used his whole being to express himself and communicate his message with the result being so powerful that it caused warring factions to embrace lasting peace for the first time in many years. Pirovano’s masterful re-creation of this moment is definitely one of the highlights in his performance.
A must-see for those interested in the life of this celebrated figure, Fo’s play is also very much a piece for our times, presenting Saint Francis as a passionate social activist, relentlessly campaigning against hypocrisy, corrupt authority and social injustice.
For one night only.
Francis the Holy Jester
Saturday 8 October, 7.30pm (1hr 15), £10 (£8)