Theatre to see Mirandolina (La Locandiera), a 1753 play by Carlo
Goldoni. We have seen and enjoyed a couple of other works by the Italian
playwright, "Servant of Two Masters," and "The Liar", so we were looking
forward to this outing with pleasure.
The title character, Mirandolina (Deborah Staples), is a young(-ish)
woman who has inherited a well-kept inn at Florence. Uniformly described
as charming, she wins the hearts of all her male guests, with the
initial notable exception of the Knight (Brian Vaughn, last mentioned
here as "Leo Bloom" in the Skylight's "The Producers") who is dashing,
but an unpleasant misogynist. Challenged, Mirandolina decides to see if
she can win him over also, mostly for the sport of it. While doing so,
she fends off the advances of the noble but poverty-stricken Marquis
(Torrey Hanson), the wealthy but crass Count (Steve Pickering), and her
man of all work, Fabrizio (Gerard Neugent), to whom Mirandolina's father
essentially promised her.
Additional comic distraction is provided by Ortensia and Dejanira,
(Carey Cannon and Cristina Panfilio) a couple of travelling actresses
passing (more or less) as noblewomen who provide some inadvertent relief
for Mirandolina by vamping the available gentlemen.
By the end of the first act, Mirandolina has melted through the Knight's
defenses, setting up everything to come unstuck in the second act. This
happens with the expected comedy, but also with a strong dose of anger.
Under stress, the Marquis is revealed as dishonest as well as penurious,
the Count as vengeful and violent, and the would-be cool Knight one big
raw nerve of passion. There was a startling amount of verisimo in these
scenes that makes the play seem much more modern than its date would
imply. (The production was set in the vaguely 1930's, which worked
well.) Mirandolina eventually wades through the wreck and brings the
play to an unexpected (at least by us) conclusion.
Staples and the rest of the cast did an excellent job bringing us the
story. As previously noted in this journal, Goldoni lead the transition
of Italian theatre from commedia del'arte to scripted plays. One can
still detect the shadows of the archetypical characters here:
Mirandolina/Columbine, Marquis/Pantalone, Count/Dottore, Knight/Captain;
but as presented all the characters are present and speaking for
themselves, and you do not need to know the older form in order to enjoy