Piccolo Teatro di Milano

Inner Voices

June 25 - 29, 2013

in CST's Courtyard Theater

by Eduardo De Filippo
directed by Toni Servillo
A World’s Stage Production from Italy

Critical Acclaim

Highly recommended! Piccolo Teatro’s Inner Voices plays on absurdity of life, Italian style. You can well imagine the impact De Filippo’s play had when it first arrived in 1948. But watching the altogether glorious production by the Piccolo Teatro Di Milano now being presented as part of Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s invaluable World’s Stage series, it also is easy to understand why a revival of this play might strike a powerful chord with many contemporary European audiences — especially those facing economic meltdown and the unraveling of life as they’ve known it for decades. This artfully envisioned production is performed in Italian with projected English translation. But the body language of the 14 actors here (including the notably winning Chiara Baffi and Betti Pedrazzi) is so brilliant, you might almost find yourself wishing the words, as wonderful as they are, would disappear. Read full review.


If at some points in Inner Voices—presented by Chicago Shakespeare Theater with funding help from the Italian government—you have the feeling that you are watching two actors with a creepy similarity playing the role of brothers, that’s because Toni Servillo plays opposite his actual brother, Peppe Servillo. The two men, who have a habit of putting their heads so close together they look like twin targets in a shooting range, certainly embody fraternal intimacy. They have a shorthand that’s positively transfixing. There’s one moment, when the well-being of Toni’ guy is threatened, you get the sense that his brother is drawing from some deep waves of complex affection and rivalry in the way he wordlessly combines criticism and concern. It’s quite something to watch, as is the way Toni delivers De Filippo’s dialogue—his breaths barely apparent but his emotional crises fully out in the open. Read full review.


      The dark comedy, in a new production by Milan's Piccolo Teatro presented here as part of the Year of Italian Culture and Chicago Shakespeare Theater's World's Stage series, suggests De Filippo as an Italian cousin of Beckett (with perhaps a touch of Shakespeare in his tidy ending). Yet the playwright's absurdist accents—the Saporitos' mad, mute uncle communicates in a language of fireworks—are wedded to a real moment of Italian identity crisis. Could even your own family members—or your own senses—be trusted? Piccolo's sharp, beautifully designed revival, performed in Italian with projected English supertitles, sports a rich 14-member ensemble so wonderfully expressive you could almost do without the translation. Director Toni Servillo is marvelous as Alberto, undergoing an enthralling unraveling. Read full review.


"Inner Voices". Between dreams and reality with the Servillo brothers

"The tragedy of Italy is not having revolted, of not having killed the father, as Umberto Saba said, and suddenly we have become fratricidal" - this is one of the acute considerations that Toni Servillo makes on the ethical dispute between what is admissible and what is not in the post-war period lived by our country as described by Eduardo De Filippo in Inner Voices, a play with which the actor-director has recently debuted in Marseilles and which is now at the Piccolo Teatro, Milan, before departing for the Argentina in Rome on Tuesday 7. "For a certain loss of sense and rules of civil living, the people of today have also fallen into a relationship crisis from which it seems difficult to escape" says Servillo, who returns after 11 years to take on Eduardo, after the exceptional Saturday, Sunday and Monday The opportunity here is provided by a weaving of nightmares and evil deeds presumed real, in a climate of monstrosity and restless sleep. "Alberto Saporito, my character, unmasks his own guilty conscience and that of everyone else when he accuses a neighbouring family, which he sees as irrefutably guilty, of a crime, a crime which he then realises he has only dreamt of. It is however too late, and the bad situation creates further reciprocal suspicions, accusations and betrayal." Here it is, an intense theme of Inner Voices: disloyalty, u-tums, mistrust, even between relatives or cohabitants..."

Rodolfo Di Giammarco, La Repubblica

The restless sleep of monsters

They begin and end in sleep, the Inner Voices with which Toni Servillo returns to Eduardo, a few years after that Saturday, Sunday and Monday which seemed to us to have been the most beautiful and moving treatment of a piece by the Neapolitan master since his death. And we all know well what sleep can create when the grip of reason is loosened. It is a black comedy of dreams, shadows, visions, nocturnal nightmares, Inner Voices. The restless souls of the dead nest, they creep into the house, into the nooks and crannies, even, shamelessly, into clothes- into the tie which will not knot. The maid Maria - who we see at the beginning lying on a chair at the kitchen table - dreams, unable to work in the early hours of the morning. And even in her young innocence, the dream is a surreal film of images which drip blood. Alberto Saporito dreams. And in this dream he is convinced that his neighbours - the good family Cimmaruta which lives off the work of its womenfolk- have killed his friend Aniello Amitrano. He spied on them, he saw how they had drawn him into a trap and where they had hidden the blood-soaked shirt and the incriminating documents: in a hole behind the dresser. He thus hastens to formally accuse them and now there in their kitchen he waits together with his brother for the arrival of the police, stealing glances at the clock which prolongs the cruel pleasure of being able to openly throw in their faces the still concealed rancour. Bum them alive, he cries, with the zeal of a religious inquisitor, as they are lead away. But did Alberto Saporito really dream? He himself is no longer sure. He no longer knows what is real in this melting pot of reality and dream, in front of the procession of relatives who accuse each other of the crime. They believed it possible, they accepted it, maybe they were ready to commit another, as he claims in the moralistic finale, when a blinding light floods the stage and brings what should be the moment of truth. Everyone thinking that he withdrew out of fear. Everyone repeating to him, produce the documents, there's no point saying he doesn't have them.

Gianni Manzella, 11 manifesto

Eduardo, Servillo, and the "moral postwar" of today.

On Sunday afternoon I went to the Piccolo Teatro di Milano to enjoy Inner Voices by Eduardo De Filippo with a Toni Servillo who speaks with his eyes and hands, his brother Peppe, a white table, a dresser and a couple of chairs. A neo-realist joumey through the guilty conscience of humanity which begins in the rubble ofthe Second World War and which strips bare the fall of the values of the "moral postwar" of today. Small and great miseries take to the stage, characters with their vileness and suspicions, stains of hatred and the usual dose of hypocrisy, gestures and (bitter) portraits of a "guilty conscience" of both the young and the old. A piece of miraculous foresight which only the talent of Eduardo could have conceived in 1948, and which only the talent of Servillo could interpret so faithfully as to conduct us through the meanders of a soul devoured by envy and the (unfortunately) evermore frequent trails of the moral corruption of today..."

Roberto Napoletano, II Sole 24 Ore

The soul of Eduardo in the clothes of The Tramp

"It is clear that the Inner voices, the voices of conscience, reflect the traumas of a country where everyone suspects everyone else, where values seem to have disappeared, where the wisest prefer to remain silent because they know they will not be understood; such as the old and almost invisible Uncle Nicola who communicates to the world by letting off firecrackers and who only Alberto can understand. The world of dreams here mixes and is confused with reality, and this is expressed well (the second act played in chiaroscuro is wonderful) through Toni Servillo's direction which translates everything with subtle intelligence into a metaphor. With moments of pure comedy within a noir frame, Toni Servillo excels: dressing in that baggy suit "à la Tramp", he gives his character that Chaplin touch. This too is genius."

Domenico Rigotti, Avvenire

Divine Comedy
"As a director, Servillo shines for his winning attitude, for which Naples "understands more that one sees". Suddenly, the simple costumes serve only to define the era, in the same way that the minimalist scenery enhances the musicality of the Neapolitan dialect. A dialect which Servillo and the dozen actors who accompany him (among them his real-life brother, Peppe, a perfect bigot, more suited to scrounging than bowing) play with, dragging the words and transforming the consonants to better prolong the vowels. Although the subtitles at times delay the reactions of the audience by a few moments, they are reduced to a minimum, just enough to help follow the conversation without interfering with the acting. Apropos the acting: Servillo stands out for all that he is, one of the most talented Italian actors, able to transmit to all the lowliness of humanity of the post-war period simply by holding his head in his hands. Supported by a razor-sharp piece and surrounded by talent, he is divine."

Paul Goiffon, La Marseillase

The ruin of Italy as seen by De Filippo
Toni Servillo stages "Inner Voices", written in 1948, which recalls the current crisis.
"In Naples it is raining. Italy has never seemed so confused, irritable, divided, such a caricature, than after the elections of 24 and 25 February. In Genova, an elderly comic, Beppe Grillo, holds politics hostage. In Milan, the deathwatch of members of Silvio Berlusconi's party, among them an ex minister of justice, have demonstrated against the judiciary. In Rome, the search is on for a government. A little light is needed. We enter the theatre in order to see better ( ... ) "I had already staged Saturday, Sunday and Monday by De Filippo - explains Servillo - a perfect play which foresaw the economic boom of the 1960s. This is darker, more difficult to stage. Written in 1948, at the end of the war, it speaks of the moral ruin which followed the material ruin of Italy. I chose to tell of this precipice in which truth and lies, legal and illegal, are confused. The war changed the nature of man and we no longer know how to communicate or understand each other." One of the characters, who expresses himself simply by lighting firecrackers, illustrates this abyss: he has chosen silence "because the world is deaf.'"

Philippe Ridet, Le Monde

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