Re-wed: The Marriage of Flavio and Isabella is a Commedia dell’Arte tale about two young lovers and the assorted disasters that befall them on the day of their wedding. This year’s Fringe marks a triumphant return for the show after a sold-out season in 2011.
Commedia dell’Arte (for those of you who – oddly – might not be so familiar with Renaissance-era performance styles) is a form of comic theatre that developed in Italy during the 1500s. Commedia dell’Arte was performed by travelling troupes of actors, who wore masks, relied largely on improvisation and used stock characters, such as bumbling servants and rich old misers. Don’t let that background info put you off, though. The Marriage of Flavio and Isabella is fresh, funny and anything but old and stuffy.
James Lainas, Cinzia Schincariol and director Corinna Di Niro smoothly play ten different characters between them, putting on masks or key items of costume with each change of character so that the audience can easily keep track. The show is bursting with energy and the cast clearly have fun on stage, with their enthusiasm rubbing off on the audience. Charismatic Lainas displays brilliant comic timing, while Di Niro’s performance is immensely clever in its silliness. The only drawback is Schincariol’s tendency to be too quiet. Although she plays two dainty characters, they still need to be more lively. Her performance is so comparatively subdued it lessens the energy on stage and her lines can be a struggle to hear from the back of the audience.
The set, costumes and props are all basic but effective. The simplicity helps keep the show uncluttered and seems appropriate for a style of theatre that was originally performed by travelling companies. References to contemporary things like Skype add to the humour, without coming off as desperate to make the show seem more modern and cool.
Adults and kids would both be genuinely entertained as the mix of slapstick and wit has something to amuse everyone. There’s plenty of innuendo to make grown-ups grin, but it would all go right over the heads of anyone too young to get it. The Marriage of Flavio and Isabella is an ideal choice for families looking for a Fringe show to see together – it’s one that primary school-aged kids can watch, but which older siblings and parents will actually enjoy too.
Even if it doesn’t sound like something you’d normally watch, give it a try. This show is definitely worth it.
Venue: The Drama Studio, Concordia College, Winchester St, Highgate.
Season: 27 Feb – 2 March (schools-only sessions), 6.00pm 25 Feb, 6 Mar and 8 Mar (public sessions).
Duration: 1 hour.
Tickets: $15 – $18.
Bookings: Fringetix via 1300 FRINGE, outlets or online.