The official theatre season at Bagni di Lucca’s Teatro Accademico hasn’t yet begun yet there’s plenty happening in it. Last week-end there were two shows both by amateur companies but which showed an almost professional grasp of their craft.
On Saturday there was a homage to Eduardo de Filippo, the great playwright from Naples who restored the dialect of his city to the artistic heights it deserved. The homage consisted of collages of scenes from two of his comedies, Uomo e galantuomo and Sik-Sik l’artefice magico, interspersed with songs and poems, again by De Filippo.
Neapolitan is in many respects a separate language from Italian and not merely a dialect. However, after some initial baffling minutes it became easier to understand, certainly a lot easier than Glaswegian is to a Londoner! One of the pieces involved a somewhat unconventional company of players who upset the rules in the hotel where they are staying with hilarious results. The songs were beautifully sung too.
The Altroteatro association, which put on the production, is directed by Antonello Nave and was formed in Florence in 1999.
I was first introduced to the colourful theatre of De Filippo several years ago (in 1977 to be exact) when a production of his ‘Filomena Marturana’ was put on in at London’s Lyric theatre. I was privileged to assist at the rehearsals held in the Italian Institute. Among the actors were Joan Plowright and Colin Blakely but what was even more exceptional was that Franco Zeffirelli was there to direct. I shall never forget that memorable occasion!
On Sunday we were treated to the Compagnia Vitamina Dance’s production of “Oh Mamma! Che Musical!” directed by Fabrizio Magnani. I had suspicions that this was an Italian version of the musical ‘Mamma Mia’ based on Abba’s songs and I was pleasurably right. Although not all the singing was of the highest calibre the togetherness of the ensemble and the sheer joy of the choreography thrilled the audience until, at the end, the company was treated to a standing ovation.
Abba is a group that has overcome any former ‘euro trash’ sneering at it. The group’s songs remain highly memorable and beautifully constructed. It’s no wonder that Abba’s music has sold more copies than any other pop group, apart from the Beatles!
It’s quite pointless for some kill-joys to declare that nothing happens in Bagni di Lucca. There’s quite a bit happening and one has only to keep oneself informed by picking up leaflets at the tourist office (when it’s open), by trawling the internet, or by looking at the posters in the bars.
The fact that our theatre was largely empty on Saturday and just over half-filled on Sunday was a reflection of the apathy of too many people here rather than a reflection on the standard of the shows offered which was exceptionally high and would have done honour even to a professional company.
Don’t miss therefore the frantically funny Feydeau farce, coming up next at your local Bagni di Lucca theatre this Sunday, November 1st, at 5.30 pm.