If you're a thespian and haven't seen a commedia dell'arte show, go see one. Go see this one. Just educated yourself in the ways of commedia. I had the pleasure of actually performing in a commedia while studying theatre in college. It's different, physical, hilarious and extremely entertaining. Lyric Arts is making a bold choice by not only producing a commedia but also a new script by Resident Director, Scott Ford.
First a little background about commedia. Commedia is an early form of professional theatre and originated in Italy. There are many things that go into this form of theatre including masks, stock characters and improv. The performances were based off of sketches and scenarios with very little to the actual script. Now in modern times, theatres often use this as a chance to implement modern references and updated jokes from pop culture or politics for audiences to enjoy.
Flavio Betrayed - A Commedia (FB) is filled with disguise, deceit, insults, romance, and friendship, which is the basic formula for most commedia. It involves mistaken identities, misunderstandings and plenty of laughs. This romantic romp tells the story of our hero, Flavio, whose best friend, Oratio, is trying to steal the hand of his beloved Isabella. However while this happens, Isabella's father is attempting to marry her off to another suitor.
The brilliant thing about watching a commedia is the acting. The acting is everything. Most of the time, as it is encouraged, the sets do not need to be extravagant. When commedia was first discovered in Italy, they often used very quick sets or sheets to depict scenes as they were usually traveling around, performing from city to city. Lyric Art's scenic designer, Peter Lerohl, does this well as he creates three two dimensional type buildings, two houses and an Inn. They are bright and colorful with the doors replaced with curtains, which the actors use often for plenty of bits. The top of the two houses include windows for plenty of other comedic bits. They pay homage to what real commedia is and I respected it greatly.
Since commedia has to do a lot with acting, you need an all star cast who is ready to work hard and willing to try anything. Lyric Arts has done just that with plenty of returning Lyric Arts favorites like Brendan Veerman, Nykeigh Larson, Kyler Chase and Katie Strom-Rozanas (to name a few) along some new ones along with way including one of my new favorite Twin Cities actors, Neal Skoy.
In the spirit of true commedia, I must say that many of these actors were spot on in their portrayals. The entire cast was really on fire the entire performance, never letting energy fall which is extremely important in this stylized type of theatre. Brendan Veerman played the stock character Pantalone (Flaminia's father). The Pantalone is known for his greed and sticking his (usually) large nose in his neighbors business. The Pantalone has a stance that most actors mimic which includes large strides and a hunched back (to protect the money bag that usually is connected to his hip) and Veerman nailed it. His commitment to the part, hilarious physicality of the character and vocal energy had me begging for him to come back onstage every time he left.
Neal Skoy played Isabella's servant Pedrolino was by far the epitome of what commedia should be. Neal has had quite the amount of practice after reading his bio and hearing that he was actually a Professional Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus Clown. Translation? This role is perfect and was written for him. While all actors had an impressive amount of energy, his never fell. From the pre-show before the start all the way to the curtain, his jokes and physicality were absolutely superb. Skoy makes this show.
Other notable mentions include two Lyric Arts alum, Katie Strom-Rozanas as Isabella and Nykeigh Larson as Flaminia. Both of their comical over-dramatic interpretation left many in stitches. It's always an absolute pleasure seeing both of these ladies on the stage, but together is even better! I wish they were in more scenes together because these two both command the stage anytime they are on. Maybe Scott Ford should just write another play about these two characters and have Strom and Larson lead it? Can I start the poll for this?
FB is a hilarious new script that also celebrates Scott Ford's 10 years of theater making at Lyric Arts. I've had the pleasure of working with him before and he is an absolute gem to Lyric Arts and the surrounding theater scene. Lyric Arts recently posted a blog post talking more about his work which you can find here. You can also hear him talk more about the production on their "Director's Take" post found here. I applaud Lyric Arts for successfully producing a hilarious stylized commedia show that not many theatre's in the area would take the chance doing. It was a big risk but obviously payed off.
Flavio Betrayed - A Commedia plays through Sunday, Oct. 29.
For GoldStar discounted tickets, visit this link! http://bit.ly/2fTgmbW
For more information about the show, visit their site. http://bit.ly/2yQYsSX