Camden Fringe 2023
Gerard and Becky are two photographers who meet in South East Asia. They begin a relationship, as we learn through flashbacks following parts of the couple’s journey together, as Gerard covers conflict in Turkey and Syria.
Confused Chronicles of Aleppo handicaps itself from the get-go. In the small space of Camden People’s Theatre, Alessandro Onorato uses a microphone to amplify his voice over the music provided by Nicolò Bodini. It is at once difficult to hear, with lines simply being lost. The slight echo from the amplification does not help and is a little off-putting: it leaves the audience having to focus a lot harder on the words being spoken, and even doing so I missed several lines. As a result, the story is not always easy to immediately follow, especially in moments telling us of a complicated geo-political situation. More than once the confusion of the title settles over the audience.
Onorato is reading the script in a mixed reading/acting performance. As he finishes each page, he lets it drop to the floor. Some of this is effective, and he employs gestures and movement, imbuing his voice with emotions to move the experience beyond mere recitation. Despite his good work in distinguishing between the characters he portrays, establishing an emotional connection remains challenging and the script feels like a barrier between him and the audience. I constantly wanted the script to vanish and Onorato to have more freedom to engage the spectators with his characters; to help us make connections with them.
With these barriers in place, it is harder to care about Gerard and Becky. Warmth and charm in the early stages of their relationship does not fully land and then later, when war comes a lot closer, the impact on us is similarly lost. It is a shame, as there are good moments. The fact that Onorato’s original novel won awards and was translated into multiple languages underscores the story’s inherent potential.
The accompanying music from Bodini is a definite strength. Sound issues aside, it is effective and engaging, with thought given to its use and pauses for scene transitions, both men working nicely together.
It feels like all the ingredients are here. Confused Chronicles of Aleppo has an interesting story, a talented team, and a clear thematic direction. However, a little refinement and a rethink on the presentation would be most welcome.
Written by Alessandro Onorato
Music by Nicolò Bodini
Produced by: Underluminal, La Scapigliatura