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Preview: Repubblica – A Modern Tragedy

This political thriller comes to the Fitz auditorium to kick off your Easter term


In a thrilling bit of new student writing, the story of the birth of modern Italy is presented through the eyes of one teenage girl. Described as a cross between a tragic love story and a Grimm fairy tale, writer and director Bonham Bax‘s vision is set to take the Fitzwilliam Auditorium by storm for one night only.

In the lead-up to the show’s debut, we got in touch with some of Repubblica’s cast and crew to find out more about the show.

The story follows Nedda, played by Emma Jane Scott, a teenage girl in post-WWII Italy, who emigrates “from wealthy Rome to an isolated island in the xenophobic South”. Both her identity and the identity of the nation come into contention as she falls for “an unprejudiced but powerful local figure,” in a world where love and politics are deeply intertwined.

Emma Jane Scott praises Repubblica for its “stimulating, foreboding and meaningful” storyline. It clearly handles topics that are still relevant today, as she comments that “despite being set in the 1940s, many of the circumstances within Repubblica reflect feelings that everyone has – the want to ‘fit in’, to please everyone and navigate new relationships.”

Emma Jane Scott as Nedda (Image credits: Jerome Simons and Siew Yen Loke)

While history generally tends towards certain narratives, Repubblica innovates in that it “picks apart the political origins of modern Italy through the eyes of those the Referendum would have affected most: the various populations of Italy,” which in turn highlights “how politics has the power to generate and alter social realities”.

Scott also stresses the relevance of the play particularly to young women, stating that “the feminist edge of the play emulates the challenge for women navigating power.” Repubblica pushes boundaries in its handling of difficult themes, elevating “a distinct feminist edge to the play that (despite on the surface seemingly following a typical ‘fairy-tale’ route) sees this female protagonist navigate the challenge of finding herself simultaneously holding the power of and subject to the circumstances around her.”

This is also evident when Scott describes her characterisation of Nedda and why she likes her so much: “She’s a fighter – not by choice but because she must be. I enjoy the challenge of conveying the many layers to Nedda: when to reveal her more authentic self vs when she’s masking her true feelings.”

Image credits: Jerome Simons and Siew Yen Loke

This is also evident when Scott describes her characterisation of Nedda and why she likes her so much: “She’s a fighter – not by choice but because she must be. I enjoy the challenge of conveying the many layers to Nedda: when to reveal her more authentic self vs when she’s masking her true feelings.”

Image credits: Jerome Simons and Siew Yen Loke

Velody continues by stating the importance of this story, as Repubblica is “a very well-written piece of writing looking at an interesting period in history that is still quite overlooked.” The general message seems to support a function of looking at history that ensures we do not repeat past mistakes, following “the vicious cycle of politics and history that holds individuals ransom” and how “it is not how we start our lives that defines us, but how we continue it.”

Image credits: Jerome Simons and Siew Yen Loke

However, as writer and director Bax so aptly puts it, “the truth is truncated when distilled down to ‘one main message'”; the show holds lots of mystery and deeper complexities that one can only begin to try to comprehend by going to see the show. This is alleviated by Bax’s cryptic comments on the show, choosing not to “divulge” any massive spoiler moments, only telling us that people should come to see the show “to be offended.”

And so, Bax leaves us in anticipation of this “tragic but beautiful” play, with these final Repubblica-inspired final words of wisdom: “Try not to kill anyone.” Repubblica truly promises to be something special, offering a complex story through some striking student writing.

With just under a week to go until the first (and only!) performance in Cambridge, I highly recommend going to see Repubblica while you have the chance, for an explosive start to your Easter term.

Repubblica is showing on the 14th of April at 7:30 pm at the Fitzwilliam College Auditorium. Book your tickets here.