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Francis, The Holy Jester
Published on Monday, 24 August 2009

Irresistible and fiercely funny, Mario Pirovano’s acting will leave you in stitches and begging only for more. In the first play about the life of St. Francis of Assisi to be performed in English, Italian satirist Dario Fo’s long-term artistic companion appeared at the Pleasance as a charismatic storyteller, brilliant actor, and passionate translator.

Originally devised as a monologue, the play in the hands of Pirovani is a public argument. His skillful interaction with the audience in the crammed theatre could never leave you feeling a distant observer. On the contrary, his fresh remarks about the jester role of Berlusconi, and clever observations on the difference between then and now – delivered in a scandalously hilarious way – were nothing short of riveting.

The charming image of the 13th century daredevil was drawn in four separate scenes from his life: Francis meets the wolf in Gubbio, The Tirade of Francis in Bologna, Francis goes to the Pope in Rome, and finally, his death. The stories themselves, like the acting – in which the school of the great comic and director Dario Fo could easily be recognized – were equally gripping.

The last story, however, was rushed, and Pirovani apologized that he had to squeeze a 110-minute show into an hour. However, in a final engaging moment with the audience, he announced that the first translation of the play had been published in the form of a novella (and, inevitably, was available to purchase at the venue). All in all, it was an excellent performance, rewarded by the audience with that Fringe rarity: three warmly-received curtain calls.

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These are archived reviews of shows from Edinburgh 2009.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

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