“Virus” is a show made in 2010, but it still deserves to be seen, firstly for the implications of the topics (which we will shortly discuss) and, secondly, because it is an important milestone in the company’s history: the group- in this period- is in the middle of an intense and successful activity.
It is settled in an almost always dark place characterized by two buildings of metal tubes in the foreground; two men are the main characters – wearing overalls- banished to an apocalyptic underground, where handfuls of dead rats end up.
The animals are the pestiferous residues of an epidemic that has broken out in the world on the surface, despite widespread reports of a radio about scenarios of wealth and good life. But what we see is clearly at odds with what the invisible “master’s voice” says, from a machine above that overhangs meaningfully the fourth wall.
Rats begin to appear everywhere: on the floor, whenever the light of a torch partly allows inspection of the darkness in the stage; in the air, in which they swoop down from a tube connected with the outside; even in a tray with lid where you would expect to find, instead, a refreshing meal.
The background sound effects, stressing the whole story, are fragmented by footsteps, frequency changes and music samples, thus producing an atmosphere of thriller and suspense.
No one is safe: not even the strange couple of men sheltered in such bunker (maybe, forced residence), where they seem to take charge of collecting and calculating this rubbish, noting the numbers on a blackboard in the background, while heavy sacks often run on a pulley.
The two men have different behavior about what happens. One of them seems not at all interested in collecting and calculating, he feels rather cooped up in there and sometimes he climbs the bars of his structure – to the right- and he ambushes his neighbor, attacking him, writing determined messages, sending him rats and spitting probably infected secretions on his face.
The other has a reflective attitude, but he is not less apprehensive: he observes and examines, collects and takes note; he has to defend himself and retorts his neighbour’s blows; sometimes he tries to write words of love to a distant lover on a small blackboard placed in his scaffolding on the left. Words written in chalk, subject to cancellation and that are composed and last for some time with difficulty.
Because it is as if they had become a fragile substance, of which we have lost a significant part of memory, sense and meaning, together with a certain use. The two men never speak, in fact. Only sighs and gasps come from them, muffled cries during their physical fights hidden in a dense gloom.
The very act of intimate writing seems to be due to an inner start, fruit of the desperate need to give vent to a hope which will remain alive and open, thanks to communication skills and intersubjective expansion inherent in written words.
Except the few speeches of the voice from the radio, on the whole we are in a non-verbal context which give us also the sense of loss and tormenting lack, further emphasized by the absence of the feminine. The woman is evoked only for a moment through a video projection on the man’s little table; he has tried to write the persistence of his not- extinct sentiment.
Pietro Naglieri interprets all this, he guards his range of intimate emotions with measured anxiety, integrating with Simone Faloppa’s gloomy animal threatening dynamics. They play opposing tensions of the same intensity, in a tense game of light and dark where the really different subject is missing – the truly different- to alter, and then to demolish, the vicious circle of this male couple voted to withdraw darkly into itself.
And the Other, the Different missing – a lack made palpable, as mentioned, by a very discreet evocation, visually alluded and hinted in its absence- it is precisely the Woman. That is to say, she is a symbolic figure, guardian of an ancestral mystery regarding the reception and the creation of a new human life; thus she is bearer and keeper of a dimension opened to a future existence to be completely created at the height of its best potential.
Therefore those who can keep in their soul the weak, but clear, glare of such a horizon of fruitful imaginative and also spiritual potential can be still saved, finding a vital burst towards a possible way out from a condition of oppression.
And this is due to the thought of the Other. So the man with his love letters wins, in a meaningful reversal of positions, the right side left empty by the antagonist; he begins to climb the scaffolding ascending to the big tube from which rats rain down. Spotted by light, he is ready to cross the pernicious pipe. Beyond perhaps there is a world of death and desolation; but beyond, you can face openly the world to reaffirm and give back renewed prospects of freed existential strength.
(Damiano Pignedoli, www.dramma.it, 20 Aprile 2012)
Luca Ricci and Lucia Franchi are the creators of Kilowatt Festival, held annually in San Sepolcro, dedicated to the new theatre and to the artists under 40. They themselves are artists under 40 who work in the contemporary theatre and, he as director, she as a playwright, create together “Virus”.
We are in a dark and underground basement, a “post” atmosphere, post-war, post-crisis, post- epidemic…two men stay in two makeshift refuges: one is hunting rats and digging into his memories, the other is giving vent to his anger. In the meanwhile noises and waste come from the world above.
One appreciates the utmost exactitude of a work without words, made of gestures and moods. (Anna Bandettini, La Repubblica, 3 September 2011)
The para-text of Virus is created by mixing the details – broken words, torn and lateral visions – cinematically theatrical, half way between Murnau’s expressionist shadows and leaden atmospheres of certain American science fiction films of the Fifties. In the large “recipe” that the authors – Luca Ricci and Lucia Franchi – take as a reference of their project, more texts than visions abound. This is what turns the amalgam of “Virus” into such an original creation. A multi-layered work into which Pietro Naglieri and Emilio Vacca’s feral carnality breathes excitement and anxiety. (Rossella Battisti , L’Unità, 16 April 2011)
A constant factor in Capotrave’s theatre is the attempt to actualize classic tales raising them to a paradigm, transforming them into metaphor. With “Virus” the director Luca Ricci sketches a modern-day version of “The Plague” by Albert Camus. Ricci – who, together with the co-creator Lucia Franchi, peppers the show with quotations– is right to think that the metaphorical power of this famous novel fits perfectly with the present. (…) The atmosphere created is reminiscent of some classic contemporary horror fictions, like “28 Days Later,” by the British director Danny Boyle. (Graziano Graziani, Carta, 12 April 2011)
“Virus” – the new show by Luca Ricci and Lucia Franchi, produced by this gem of a festival, Kilowatt, in Sansepolcro – investigates by action the dynamics of the degradation of conditions leading to the spread of an epidemic. Two actors on stage, with two cages as a house, are immersed in an underground, dirty atmosphere, where poor hygiene spreads and mice proliferate, discharged into a huge tube. “Virus” is a story about fear, and also threat: the specter of an epidemic, more and more concrete, gripping men and punctuated by the voice of a radio announcer that, inexorably, updates the spread of a virus.
The relationship between the two men is almost absent, made of suicide attempts and mute interrelations, where looks and gestures tell better than a thousand words the apocalyptic characters locked in a basement, also symbolic of the country we live in, which is slowly consuming itself because of an epidemic.
The show consists of an uninterrupted series of visual impressions, beautifully realized. Excellent proof of the performers Simone Faloppa and Pietro Naglieri, who can clearly outline the loneliness and despair of men trapped in the micro / macrocosm, which is a basement but also the world. (Franco Cappuccio, www.klpteatro.it, 2 October 2010)
Luca Ricci has prepared his “Virus” as one does in a work shop, going straight down a radical way which from some point of view has very little to do with the theatre. Pietro Naglieri and Simone Faloppa’s nervous and frantic movements are striking for their intensity; nameless and speechless characters who run after each other in an underworld infested with rats. It is very interesting Lucia Franchi and Luca Ricci’s extreme choice of using only torches to describe an epidemic that is devouring the city in an unknown near future. The structure of metal tubes acts to perfection as apocalyptic scenario, where the basement is the only world still safe. A dark, threatening, ultimate world. In “Virus” there is action, romance, literature, vision, invention and performative force. We see well the spectrum of the metaphor, framing the characters in the representation of a world in free fall, putting the mice and the epidemic as a symbol of an epilogue of horror, implying in despairing looks and suicide attempts the only relationship between individuals. (Sergio Lo Gatto, www.klpteatro.it, 25 July 2010)
The Kilowatt Festival, the brilliant event invented by Luca Ricci eight years ago in Sansepolcro, is a strict party of fantasy, as confirmed by the beginning of this year with three new interesting performances of 50 minutes each, in which two characters face themselves. In CapoTrave’s Virus individuals, who share a cursed destiny, compete with each other, in a background of dark rooms and whiteboards. (Franco Quadri, La Repubblica, 24 July 2010)
Virus, by the company Capotrave, directed by Luca Ricci, brings to the stage a drama à la Frank Miller, a metropolitan nightmare with a powerful cinematographic style. In a city ravaged by the spread of a terrible virus, two men, living in a black and claustrophobic under world, are trying to survive in an inexplicable and unexplained relationship between them. Thanks to a quick way to tell, and to Simone Faloppa and Pietro Naglieri’s excellent interpretations , the calamitous fate of the community is experienced from the inside, an interior that communicates with the world through a filler from which, however, comes the condemnation itself. The work has a very solid form and it achieves a modern, original result. (Renzo Francabandera, www.paneacqua.eu, 23 July 2010 )
A disturbing atmosphere of distress perfectly created by Capotrave, the end of the world sketched in dark scenes with an aesthetic of comic strip close-up, to tell the story of two men (played by Simone Faloppa and Pietro Naglieri) forced to gather mice into an underworld; each one fights against the virus in his own way: writing letters never sent to his beloved, counting the infected animals or attempting suicide. (Andrea Pocosgnich, www.teatroecritica.net, 23 July 2010)