“Colapesce”: Giving Life to Myth

The company in performance

The company in performance; Photo credit: Lee Bader

Written & Presented by Trinacria Theatre Company
Directed by Mariagrazia LaFauci

August 24-27, 2016
Sicily, NYC & Boston (various locations)
Trinacria Theatre Company on Facebook & Instagram

Review by Travis Manni

(Boston, MA) A Saturday afternoon in the North End’s Langone Park along the Charles River provided a beautiful, and apt, backdrop for Trinacria Theatre Company’s inaugural performance of La Storia di Colapesce.

Centered in Messina, a town along the Sicilian coast, La Storia di Colapesce tells the folklore of how a man named Nicola, or Cola, saved the island of Sicily from sinking into the sea. As a young boy, Cola felt more at home when swimming in the ocean than walking on land. His mother nicknamed him Colapesce, which essentially translates to what we call merman in modern day. His swimming abilities were incomparable, and he was believed to be able to hold his breath for two hours.

After having a nightmare predicting the sinking of Sicily, the princess of Messina sought out Colapesce to see if he could swim below the island and save its people. But the journey required a great deal more sacrifice than Colapesce could’ve known, testing both his bravery and compassion.

Each performer was clad in simple, black clothes and adorned with a colorful sash, which was twisted or worn to invoke various characters. To distinguish who was portraying Colapesce, a role that everyone had a turn at playing, a black hat was placed on the performer’s head. This choice of creating fluidity in character elevated the show and allowed the myth of Colapesce to come alive in a beautiful and mysterious way.

While I can’t speak for the production value of this show in a proper venue, I wouldn’t have asked for a more stunning stage than a small patch of grass in a park along the water. The use of sound throughout provided a visceral experience, and the ways that the actors manipulated themselves to create everything from boats to monuments to underwater columns allowed the audience to give into the authenticity of their craft. And the shadow puppeteering provided another great layer of folklore.

Born out of their time spent in Italy, La Storia di Colapesce is a wonderful testament to Trinacria Theatre Company’s story telling. Throughout the performance, I had complete faith that the performers not only knew what they were talking about, but also that they were passionate about the story. And their message of giving life to myth in everyday people packed a powerful emotional punch.

The Trinacria Theatre Company will return with in 2018. In the meantime, check them out online and on social media as they are certainly a group to watch.

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