Combat of the Masks
Seminole College, Lake Mary, FL
by Carl F Gauze
Everything old is new again, or so I’ve heard. Seminole College is still locked out of their theater building due to a pesky sinkhole. Thus, we find ourselves on the lawn on an iffy evening of Comedy de ‘la Arte and imminent lightning bolts. There are tents for the patrons, but the drizzle persists and eventually the thunderstorms get bored and wander off to bother some other show.
While this show is a few years old, it harkens back to the traveling shows of the early Renaissance. A stock company and a stock script were enough to entertain the locals until the priests came along to shoo the show down the road. Priests hate it when you cut into their profits. This show is set up as a traveling troupe living in a vehicle with fold down sides and wonderful masks for all the performers. If nothing else, the masks hide the microphones. A pre show gambol introduces us to the cast, and soon the show starts. We are not her for the plot, it’s a stock item where Lucrezia(Nicole Cutlip) and Cornelio (Lance LaBonte) wish elope, but her miserly dad Pantalone(Gannon Kozielski) prefers she marry wealthy Dr. Barlardo (Matthew Gennell) for financial connection, romance be damned. True, after 40 years passions cool, but in those plague ridden days you might be lucky to get ten years. Does our delicate young lead get the man of her dreams, or will she spend her married life poking at an old man primarily adept at snoring off key?
Despite the sound and the climatic fury, this show is packed with gags and pratfalls. Papa Pantalone is cranky and distorted, and not exactly evil but more an “Evil Lite” type of Dad. Cutlip’s Lucrezia knows a few spells but can’t outrun parental control. More broad comedy comes from the sword point of Captain Sangre y Fuego (Danny Sanchez) whose sash he can just barely buckle. The show was active and always in motion with the cast running free on the damp grass, but sound problems were endemic, and I missed a good bit of the dialog. But that’s the strength of this comedy: If you can’t hear the words you can take a good guess. We’re going for caricature and lust and word play is just for the intellectuals.