Alessandra Cava

Menoventi works with the texture of reality and its countless wrinkles, which they conceive as a thick space where actors and their instruments act. 20 below 0 are the degrees of the “upside down thermometer” marking their research: they proceed by subtraction, robbing the audience of everything that makes them feel safe in the darkness of the theatre. The work of the Faenza-based company, which was created in 2004 by Consuelo Battiston, Gianni Farina and Alessandro Miele, follows this direction, crossing the borders of representation and inhabiting the theatre so radically as to step out of its frame. Their debut production, In Festa (2005), already underlines their vocation for investigating our perception of reality. In that play a couple is vainly waiting in their kitchen for their dinner guests who will never arrive, while they are given unexpected gifts and are visited by fragments of bodies. The true meaning of every research lies in its relentless movement: every show becomes a deforming lens for the audience, a means that can challenge all relationships between things, first of all the fictional pact between stage and audience. But it is in Semiramis (2008) that the research on the possible intermediate levels between reality and fiction gets into Menoventi’s work, generating a stratified monologue, whose surreal and confusing nature is skilfully embodied by Consuelo Battiston. The character of the Assyrian queen, after the baroque interpretation of Calderón de la Barca, here becomes the intersection between the ambiguity of power and the ambiguity of representation. InvisibilMente (2008) plays on the boundary between theatre and its “double”, that is reality: two masks repeatedly come on stage, putting off the beginning of a show which may have already started, while invisible thoughts appear on the screen behind them, plunging the unveiling into the representation of itself. In Postilla (2009), the spectators are invited one by one to sell their soul to the Devil to see a play they will later become the main character of. And in 2011 this puzzle box became a musical pun in the radio play Il contratto. In its latest works, Menoventi seems to delve farther into mazy questions. L’uomo della sabbia. Capriccio alla maniera di Hoffmann. (2011), out of E.T.A. Hoffman’s homonymous short-story The Sandman, is a real factory of illusions: just like in front of Escher’s engravings, the audience’s gaze has to move, break down and reinvent itself continually. Our familiar grips are hidden or transformed, but looking against the light we find the emergence of the boundaries confining every perspective, the frames within the frames our perception of reality endlessly falls into. Conceived for Santarcangelo 41 festival, Perdere la faccia (2011) is a radical investigation into the power of lies.