Ride of the Wagnerian

There’s nothing I would like to do more than go for a pint with Giacinto Palmieri and discuss Wagner. Maybe a discourse on the semantics of logical connectives could round off the conversation. Then The Jazz Bar for a bit of a dance. He’s a passionate, intelligent and interesting man; the kind of person who will pursue an interest until it consumes him. He really does know his stuff when it comes to Wagner.

Without the right setting and structure to demonstrate this, his Ride isn’t exciting enough to sustain its purpose.

But why demonstrate it in this rambling, ill-suited format? Palmieri is comfortable onstage but doesn’t seem to be terribly self-aware. Not many people can tell jokes effectively in their second (or maybe even third) language, and much of Palmieri’s material suffers from odd structures, or ill-timed punchlines, or suspect logical inferences only a native speaker might pick up on. This is not to say that he isn’t a funny guy, his observations are smart, but too often the jokes just don’t click.

Another problem is that, in attempting to mix a discussion of Wagner with comedy, the result has to be that one reinforces the other – otherwise there’s no point. I agree that more people should engage with Wagner (I’ve just put on Das Rheingold and it is spine-tingling). However, the target audience for this show (show? routine? talk? it isn’t clear), Wagner beginners (I think, but again, it’s not clear), aren’t going to be interested, even with some laughs to help them along. “Hey, I’m at the Edinburgh Fringe! You know what my life is missing right now? An understanding of the mythology of Der Ring des Nibelungen! Wow, isn’t it great that I can finally fill this well of ignorance that’s been burdening me for so long!”

I mean, why focus on the Ring Cycle, possibly the most complex artwork ever made? Palmieri takes us through some well-chosen excerpts, but the structure of the whole is left unclear, as is its cultural significance, as is the controversy surrounding Wagner and the appropriation of his music by the Nazis. Many people refuse to engage with Wagner, much like Nietzsche, because they have become (wrongly) associated with Nazism. Palmieri might have prefaced his show with this problem – although, juxtaposing it with comedy may have presented him with difficulties.

Palmieri mentioned ‘the semantics of logical connections’ in an improvised moment on the day I was there, and it was these moments that were most impressive. He is very, very smart. But without the right setting and structure to demonstrate this, his Ride isn’t exciting enough to sustain its purpose. It’s a shame, because I really do like the guy. I’m sorry to only give you two stars, Giacinto. Drinks this Thursday? 

Reviews by James Macnamara

Zoo

Government Inspector

★★★★
Stand in the Square

Is Your Marmite Watching You?

★★
The Jazz Bar

Jazz Rite of Spring

★★★★
Underbelly, Bristo Square

Rachel Stubbings: Doing It for Himself

★★★
C venues - C nova

Cabaret Nova

★★★★
The Edinburgh Academy

West Side Story

★★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

What is it like to be obsessed with a 15 hour-long cycle of late Romantic operas sung in German? Giacinto Palmieri loves Richard Wagner's Ring of the Nibelung so much that he told the plot to all his ex-girlfriends (note the ex). Now he wants to do the same with his audience. Hear all about dwarfs, giants, Walkyries, magic helms, love potions ... and their connection with office parties, IKEA, Facebook and modern dating rituals. A show for those who love Wagner, those who hate Wagner, and those for whom he's just an X Factor contestant.

Most Popular See More

Pretty Woman: The Musical

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Back to the Future - The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mamma Mia!

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Dear Evan Hansen

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £12.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Come From Away

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets