Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Holy mackerel ...or is the Pope a Catholic? Colm Toibin, Malcolm Turnbull & Marco Bellocchio...

Colm Toibin
Somehow or other all these Catholic things bounced up against each other. …Alison White plays Mary in Colm Toibin’s The Testament of Mary at the Wharf. Any actor who can do an 80 minute monologue deserves respect even if, like White, she has a rather dull and characterless voice. The Virgin Mary climbs down from a church painting, strips off her Renaissance garb and proceeds to tell her version of the salient moments in her son's short and quite busy later life. Toibin’s take on Christ seen through the eyes of one of those forgotten participants is indeed something special. (He is a brilliant writer and I regret to this day the moment when I got a call to say he was signing books in the Electric Shadows Bookshop but by the time I got there he had had to get moving on to whatever the author tour demanded. If you want voice, a reading by Colm Toibin is also something special. Decades ago when he read the first chapter of “The Story of the Night” (1996) to a packed crowd in the Adelaide Town Hall, the effect was thrilling. It sold more than a few books to me at least….)

…then today Malcolm Turnbull, a convert to the Roman church and the local MP who never answers any letters or emails you send him, decided to say that the pedophile abuse by thousands of Catholic priests and others in the Roman church was “our national shame”. Bullshit…. ‘the nation’ is peeling back decades of the disgrace of the Church but I’m damned if I know why it is that I and the nation have to be ashamed of the dirty deeds of the Catholic Church. Still Prime Ministers always like to blame others….

Nel Nome Del Padre
….and then, after many decades, a viewing of Marco Bellocchio’s ferocious Nel Nome Del Padre, (Italy, 1971) with its thundering score by Nicola Piovani and all out performances by a young cast. What got Italy into the daze it is in was clearly delineated way back then in the days of the dying Pope Pius XII. After all the mayhem,  the young would be fascist leader, a product of the Church and its teaching, says as he speeds away (and this is from the subtitles in English)….”Luckily we are on the right track. The whole planet will soon be a huge, peaceful society of robots….Hate can easily be neutralized. All we need is a few resolute leaders, clear-headed and unscrupulous, able to manage and control every single cog of the machine. Everything will work to perfection.” Cue the Piovani music…. 

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