Il silenzio dei cassetti

Fascinating and mysterious, Benedetto Sicca’s “Il silenzio dei cassetti” confirms his restless talent, marking a stage for his further growth after “Les adieux ” and ” Fràteme “ – A review by Renato Palazzi

By Benedetto Sicca, thirty-four Neapolitan writer-director, currently residing  at Teatro Ringhiera in  Milan, we had already seen Les adieux, an hyper- technological sophisticated adaptation of a novel by Arianna Giorgia Bonazzi, with only one actress who interacted with impressive three-dimensional screenings, and the interesting Fràteme, a convulsive family melodrama based on an interweaving of gay relationships . His stay in Milan has now produced The Silence of drawers, a fascinating and mysterious text that confirms Sicca’s  restless talent, marking, in my opinion, a stage for further growth.

If the grotesque, visionary Fràteme played on moods boldly transgressive, Il silenzio dei cassetti  – presented in the form of “studio”, while the official debut will take place next June at the Napoli Teatro Festival – is a lighter, more delicate show. I would say in some ways even more inspired, which revolves around a core of fuzzy feelings so how subtly and ambiguously complex. The action involves a strange trio, formed by Tommaso, an aspiring writer and director plagued by troubles and inner ghosts; Ferro, screenwriter with ambitions as a filmmaker, Tommaso’s companion at home and work, and Marinella, Ferro’s wife, perhaps involved in a shady deal.

A doubtful formula is, in this case, a must: the layered plot, played mainly on substantial conflict between Tommaso and Marinella, who struggle to impose their own personality, their opposing worldviews, or their influence on Ferro, their power over him (Ferro in the meantime falls in a coma due to a car crash), in fact translates into a very special dramatic construction, removed any temporal continuity, where the past and the future – as in Schimmelpfennig – overlap, where dream, fiction and reality blend continuously, and the sequence of events is disassembled and reassembled in a totally subjective order.

Is the scam allegedly masterminded by the Albanian professor where Marinella is employed real or it’s just a project? Will she actually participate in the scum, or will be subtracted at the last moment, due to the health condition of the husband? The two self-proclaimed “old man and woman” that after an unspecified parting, have loved each other devotedly throughout their existence, are Marinella and Ferro themselves or just projections of the imagination? Maybe the whole thing – as at a certain point, the author himself suggests – is nothing else than the subject of a play, set by Tommaso Sicca, became mature and self-aware, to sublimate his old tensions?

Thanks to this process of deconstruction, parting himself from the facts presented, Sicca manages to pull different writing styles together – not bad, in particular, the part of the chat between Marinella and an unknown interlocutor – in order to treat a quite cumbersome and elusive subject, at high risk of emotional exasperation. The plot of the story remains unclear, but its dreamlike staging, suspended, marked by a constant interchange between different narrative levels, captivates the viewer, forcing him to wonder about the real substance of what he sees. And the bare set design, made of metaphorical white towels and dry leaves, evokes subtle poetic resonance .

Well directed by Sicca, the actors – Simone Tangolo and Paola Michelini in the roles of Tommaso and Marinella (the two antagonists), Filippo Renda as Ferro, Valentina Picello, Beppe Salmetti, Giorgio Sorrentino – are good at giving an identity to the labile characters, on the edge of a vague abstraction, leading the audience step by step in an intricate mental labyrinth.

Il silenzio dei cassetti
written and directed by : Benedetto Sicca
lighting designer : Marco Giusti
scenic design : Mariapaola Di Francesco
with : Paola Michelini , Valentina Picello , Philip Renda, Beppe Salmetti , Giorgio Sorrentino , Simone Tangolo
Seen at Teatro Ringhiera, Milan