The Last Summer – Falcone and Borsellino 30 Years Later (L’ultima estate – Falcone e Borsellino 30 anni dopo) Assembly Roxy

As part of the programme of events from the Italian Cultural Institute in Edinburgh, Teatro Metastasio Stabile Pubblico della Toscana presented a play that marks the 30th anniversary of the mafia orchestrated massacres in 1992 of two prominent Sicilian anti-mafia judges, Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.

Written by journalist, playwright, scriptwriter and former Italian MP, Claudio Fava, whose father Guiseppe Fava was also a victim of a mafia killing, the play spans 7 years of the men’s lives as they face the human dilemmas and dangers of facing up to the risks they take on a daily basis to pursue the Law of their land with their serious sense of public duty.

In the stone arched space that is Assembly Roxy in Edinburgh’s Auld Toun, two men stroll up the dark aisle between the seated audience like a pair of nonchalant latecomers. These turn out to be acclaimed Italian actors Simone Luglio who plays Giovanni Falcone, a role he also took in the excellent TV fiction La mafia uccide solo d’estate (The Mafia Only Kills in Summer), and Giovanni Santangelo who plays Paolo Borsellino. After the cacophony of a babel of languages in the background, they take their place under spotlight at microphones at either end of the stage to set the scene before moving to the set of an office space where an illuminated sign on top of the metal filing cabinet indicates the years of 1985 to 1992.

The interaction between these two brave men who were killed within months of each other in what is known as Strage di Capaci and Strage di Via D’Amelio, is superbly brought to life by the two actors in this powerful drama. Over the piece, a voiceover from Luca Massaro of a hitman, with details of the cold Falcone murder involving explosives, adds a chilling reality to an already arresting story.

Claudio Fava’s writing, whose script has quotes from fellow Sicilian writer Leonardo Sciascia as well as a reference to a character from the Sicilian classic The Leopard by Guiseppe Tomasi di Lampadusa, shows his deep understanding of mafia and the effects of its ‘parallel republic.’  The lyrics of Handel’s aria Lascia ch’io pianga, that is played as part of the performance, adds a subtle poignancy to this significant play.

With original music by Salvo Seminatore, L’ultima estate is directed by award winning Chiara Callegaris who appears at end with the two actors to appreciative applause when the illuminated sign is changed to 2022

Performed in Italian, with English surtitles, the play was introduced by Italian Consul General for Scotland and Northern Ireland, Veronica Ferrucci, and  followed by a brief talk by emeritus Professor of Italian at the University of Strathclyde,  Joseph Farrell.

A privilege all round.

Irene Brown

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