Cristian Ceresoli’s La Merda (Shit) returns to the Edinburgh Fringe for another year, premiered there to great acclaim in 2012. Performed by the incredible Silvia Gallerano, it has lost none of its vigour or acerbic wit, despite being extensively toured.
It is no surprise to find Gallerano in Summerhall’s Dissection Room naked, perched on a plinth like a performing animal at the circus. The claustrophobic room smells strongly like a barn, which the counter odour of disinfectant only enhances, and the ghosts of animals past palpably fill the room. Gallerano is laid bare before us, in the spotlight, waiting to be examined during her fifty minutes of self-dismemberment.
The words come as a flood, gathering momentum and volume towards the end of every section. Gallerano vents her spleen, effortlessly and often very humorously illustrating her story with a number of other characters. The rhythm of her monologue is measured out precisely, drawing the audience into the vortex of her whirlpool of words, dragging us down with her.
Gallerano’s performance is remarkable, perhaps even more so because of the number of times she has performed this play. It comes out with such unexpected force, feels so raw and real, and is just such a spectacle, it is amazing to behold. Ceresoli’s writing hits its target with great accuracy every time, although it has to be said that the play does sound much better in Italian.
Although the Dissection Room suits this performance in almost every way, it does have a very wet acoustic, and this coupled with the basic sound system, means that Gallerano’s words are not always fully audible, especially in the loudest parts—and it does get very loud!
La Merda has become almost a Fringe legend, and is something that should be experienced live. Gallerano’s performance is truly uncompromising, and for this alone it really needs to be seen.