Going to the theatre in Italy can be a great way not only to improve one’s grasp of this most beautiful language, which is now the fourth most popular tongue to learn in the world today, but also to see what makes Italians laugh or cry in a drama setting and get further insights into their social and cultural background.
First, a word of warning: “commedia” in Italy doesn’t mean comedy, it means a serious play. A comedy is a “commedia brillante”. There is also a subtle difference between a piece labelled “commedia” and one labelled “drammatico” which can, as its title implies, involve more extreme emotions.
Next Sunday, the 26th of October, is the last of four plays put on by amateur dramatic societies. As befits the literary association Bagni di Lucca has with Collodi, it’s about Pinocchio the puppet and starts at 5.45 PM.
I’ve seen the season’s previous three productions.
Dracula, the musical, I’ve already described at https://longoio2.wordpress.com/2014/10/07/bloody-musical/).
On the 12th of October the commedia brillante called “L’Amico del cuore” was staged with the Compagnia Gruppo la Torre from Viareggio and last Sunday was the turn of another commedia brillante, “la Cena dei Cretini” with the Associazione culturale del molo.
“L’Amico Del cuore” was written by Vincenzo Salemmi, born in Naples in 1957, and was made into a popular film in 1998. It describes three friends, a priest, a doctor and a journalist who meet to discuss the doctor’s last wish before going to America for a life-saving (or threatening) operation. The last wish happens to be that the doctor wishes to go to bed with the journalist’s beautiful wife. At this stage I’ll leave you to watch the film but must warn that, although not too thick, the Neapolitan accent is sometimes difficult to follow.
“La Cena dei Cretini”, by the Frenchman Francis Veber, born near Paris in 1937, is another play which was made into a film in 2008. It is a satirical twist on the standard dinner party scenario where, this time, instead of pleasing raconteurs, fools are chosen by each of the invitees who bring them along to the party where they will be mercilessly ragged. This cruel kind of entertainment backfires in a hilarious manner when a marital dispute ensues.
(Some scenes from “La Cena dei Cretini” with Lorenzo Biagini, Andrea de Nisco, Bobo Pasquinucci and Sara Bertoni. Direction by Veronica Moriani and Marino Mariani).
Again, both plays dance around the husband-wife relationship which, especially in Italy, truly attracts laughs in “commedie brillanti “as they entice tears, and sometimes homicide, in plain “commedie”.
It’s a real pity the audience wasn’t more extensive in the theatre at Bagni di Lucca, which was less than half full – all the amateur theatrical companies represented are truly semi-professional and gave spirited performances which had us really gripped.
If you’ve missed these plays then the good news is that the first regional festival of amateur dramatics will be on from 25th October to the 12th December at the Ildefonso Nieri theatre at Ponte a Moriano, Lucca. Full programme is at http://www.fitalucca.it/spettacoli.php.