Night & Day Archives » Night & Day

The Italian Job


Pantalone is old, wealthy and miserly. He wishes to marry his daughter to a high-class, wealthy man, because he's an advocate of the whole "rich-get-richer" philosophy. Of course, his daughter has her own ideas about whom to marry, and they don't necessarily include hitchin' her wagon to a wrinkly old coot with a fat bankroll. Speaking of loaded coots, Pantalone is also on the prowl for a toothsome mate of his own — preferably a sweet young thing just a fraction of his own age. Lechery, young love, adultery and jealousy — the very foundations of modern entertainment — were just as popular with sixteeth-century Italian audiences, as the commedia dell'arte Old Man's Folly proves. Commedia dell'arte uses a group of stock characters — Pantalone, the young lovers, a Punch-type clown, the roguish Scaramouche — to create a humorous tale of love and lust that has only the barest outlines of a plot. It is incumbent upon the actors to improvise the story from within the character each portrays; the players know the beginning and the end of the play, but how they arrive at the finale is up to them. Project Improv St. Louis has joined with the Kingsbury Ensemble to present an authentic commedia performance, replete with period costumes, live baroque music and even the presence of noted commedia scholar Dr. Robert Henke, who portrays Dr. Gratiano, a learned-but-foolish scholar. The two groups perform the long-form improv of long ago at 8 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday (January 26 and 27) at Washington University's Umrath Hall (1 Brookings Drive). Tickets are $5 to $15 and available through the Edison Theatre box office (call 314-935-6543) or at the door.
Sat., Jan. 26; Sun., Jan. 27, 2008

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