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by Marie-José Sirach

Angelica Liddell’s {Año de Ricardo} in Avignon

Translated Tuesday 20 July 2010, by Isabelle Métral and reviewed by Bill Scoble

Angelica Liddell[see] is our conscience – she arouses our political awareness (which has been sadly wanting lately), our conscious presence to the world. As Richard III, she is the tyrant, all tyrants, the incarnation of absolute evil. Richard’s infirmity is contagious: one century after another, it spreads through all the ruling spheres. Oppressed, manipulated, democracy is no match for tyranny’s battering assault.

Liddell certainly puts her foot in it: she goes back to the origin, to the Age of Enlightenment, to Shakespeare, and from there unwinds the historical thread which, now stretched taut, is near the breaking point. Have the words “people”, “nation” still a meaning? Remember Brecht: “People are good, but veal is better.”

Tyranny takes up its dwelling in the cracks of democracy. Tyranny is organized around the ruling power, it manipulates, usurps a costume that it fits on itself, according to the age. Liddell does not play at being Cassandra. She has chosen evil to arouse our awareness, shock us out of our cozy, tepid intellectual conformism. The result is violent: a breathless flood of words she lets out, or flings at us, as history unfolds before our eyes. And on she plays, without a moment’s respite, never stopping for breath, her body contorted, worm-eaten from the inside, she belches, defecates, drinks, intoxicated with her power, the power to disseminate death with impunity.

Words spurt from this putrid body to be deliberately dissolved into the foam that bubbles out at the corners of her lips. Dreaming of auto-da-fés, she rips asunder the writings of Primo Levi. Pain twists her body, which straightens up in sudden, involuntary jolts. She certainly goes whole hog for it: with Angelica Liddell it’s a case of make or break. But beyond the performance, beyond her idiosyncratic way of holding herself on stage, what may appear most disturbing is the radicalism of her discourse, her intransigence - an intellectual stringency carried to the highest pitch, far above the conventional commonplaces and navel-bound looks that commonly hold the stage.

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