It was always going to be a tall order to adapt for the stage Federico Fellini’s award-winning 1954 film (coincidentally re-released and at the Showroom this week). It was even taller to start rehearsals without a script and devise it collectively.
And judging by the rows of empty seats, Sheffield theatre regulars seem to have made up their minds to give it a miss. Which is a pity because there is much to admire in Sally Cookson’s production which gives a stylised, mannered and sometimes surreal interpretation of a ravaged post-war Italy.
The emotional triangle story starts with a brutal roaming strongman buying the eldest daughter of an impoverished family and subjecting her to a life of abuse on the road. When they join a circus she meets Il Matto, The Fool, who tries to persuade her to seek a better life.
Audrey Brisson’s sensitive interpretation of gamine Gelsomina owes much to her time in Cirque de Soleil and the haunting song she sings has echoes of her role in Quidam.
She heads a cast of 13 international actor/musicians and there are some fine circus and musical skills on show, particularly Bart Soroczynski’s unicycle act while playing accordion.
But in the end you have to ask if the road from screen to stage was worth travelling on.
n Another stage-from-screen adaptation is on its way to Sheffield. Trainspotting Live (author Irvine Welsh has said it is “the best way to experience Trainspotting”) is at the Leadmill from June 27 to July 1.