Gran Consiglio (Mussolini)

Opening in 1943 Rome, Gran Consiglio is set with The Grand Council of Fascism meeting to discuss the deposition of Benito Mussolini. As he waits within a small study-room of Palazzo Venezia, the overwhelmed and tired Duce reflects on his life prior to this moment. Starting with his upbringing – the decision made by Mussolini’s father not to allow him a joyous one paves the way for the many childish acts the Italian dictator undertakes as an adult. Charged by physical theatre, mania undeniably underlies all the scenes. Though stemming from tragedy, the succession of disparate scenes gave this performance much comic flare throughout.

what stood out rather significantly was Tom Corradini’s characterisation of the Italian dictator

Aside from the ubiquitous physicality of the piece, what stood out rather significantly was Tom Corradini’s characterisation of the Italian dictator. From his faux friendship with Adolf Hitler to his supposed liking of Josef Stalin, the non-linear trajectory of this play mirrored Mussolini’s seriously unstable persona. Corradini’s drawing on cultural stereotypes of such people further fueled the humour of this piece. Not only limiting the mockery of nations to foreign ones, the deprecation of his own nation at times added a surprising level of rationality to Corradini’s character. However, this was just testament to the extreme nature of Mussolini that underpinned this production.

Recalling how destiny drove him from humble origins to becoming the supreme leader of Italy, Gran Consiglio conveys how much of Mussolini’s sanity was lost on this formidable journey. In spite of the merging of clowning and theatre within this piece, the simultaneous depth with which this controversial political leader is explored made it a continuously engaging performance.

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The Blurb

July 24, 1943. Rome. The Grand Council of Fascism meets to discuss the deposition of Benito Mussolini. The Duce recalls how destiny drove him from humble origins to becoming the supreme leader of Italy, and how much of his sanity he lost on this formidable journey.

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