by Niccolò Machiavelli adapted by Howard Colyer.
Jack Studio Theatre 410 Brockley Road Brockley SE4 2DH To 15 June 2013.
Tues – Sat 7.45pm Mat 8 June 4pm.
Runs 1hr 20min No interval.
TICKETS: 0844 8700 887.
Review: Tilly Lunken 29 May.
A lighter look at the Machiavellian nature of man.
There is something in the air in Florence; a whiff of romance, the tinkle of a coin purse and a distinct waft of intrigue emerge from the shadows. Dashing, rich and at liberty, Callimaco has travelled all the way from Paris to woo the pious Lucrezia. She is the beauty that equals all the women in France and he will stop at nothing to have her.
Accompanied by his loyal servant Siro, Callimaco seeks out the help of the agent Ligurio to cuckold her husband Sir Nicia and claim Lucrezia as a willing lover. Motivated by money and entertainment Ligurio manipulates her mother, her husband and her confessor to send her to bed with another man.
Updating and adapting a text can often be a precarious balance of working with the existing material and injecting new ideas. Howard Colver’s adaptation of Niccolò Machiavelli’s Mandrake (La Mandragola, 1518) feels like quite a safe interpretation of a classical text. It’s nothing too revolutionary but plays to the strengths of the original characters and plot.
The story itself is interesting structurally, for everything is explained and then the action proceeds to happen exactly as it is supposed to. What results is a play that provides satirical insight into human nature (and gives a good idea of how Machiavelli perceived humanity), but it doesn’t particularly make for dramatic tension.
Kemey Lafond’s set is used really well as a dynamic and shifting space and the cast moves through it with a confidence that speaks of clean direction from Scott Le Crass. Performance-wise Will Parrott is a joy to watch as Callimaco, mugging in disguise and gazing after his love, and he’s in good company in a solid cast.
The tone of the play is mixed, with some of the humour and word-play falling a little flat at times. However, The Jack Studio’s Mandrake is the sort of production that will warm up over the run. And where else will you get Machiavellian philosophy mixed in with your delicious Italian romance?
Sostrata: Jean Apps.
Nicia: Piers Hunt.
Siro: Annie Lees-Jones.
Liguiro: John McInnes.
Timoteo: Andy McLeod.
Lucrezia: Ruth E Mortimer.
Callimaco: Will Parrott.
Director: Scott Le Crass.
Designer: Kemey Lafond.
Lighting: Tom Boucher.
Sound: Neil McKeown.
Associate director: Rachel Illingworth.
Assistant director: Alex Mitchell.