Friday, April 08, 2005

Play note: Machiavelli's _The Mandrake_

The theater department here on campus staged Machiavelli's comedy The Mandrake. I had the opportunity to catch it on matinee here on campus, and I must say that the production was excellent. The acting was good, and the students were able to transform the small theater space into a little piece of Renaissance Italy. The customs were well made. And the comedy was right on target if the audience's laughter was any indication. The plot is basically one man's scheme to bed another man's wife. In the process, Machiavelli illustrates the ways in which man can manipulate his fellow man, showing that there is always someone to be manipulated as long as there is someone willing to manipulate. The play lasted an hour and a half with no intermission, but the pace of the play was so good that time just moved along. The opening of the play used a narrator, a character in period costume, a jester figure, who set up the scene and introduced the characters and the plot. It made for a nice way to open the play. The play had all the elements of an Italian comedy of Machiavelli's time: the cuckolded husband, the corrupt priest, the scheming man and his servant, and the woman object of his affections, all with a nice measure of play on words and bawdiness to keep it interesting. It was definitely a good afternoon of theater.

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