Isabella & Smeraldina/Witches

COMMEDIA INCOMPIUTA translates to “Unfinished Comedy.” The title is a reference to the philosophy that a play isn’t complete until an audience sees it. And I, being a playwright myself, identify with such philosophy; I had written many plays that have never seen the light of day (never produced). As playwright, what I write is meant to be seen, so if it isn’t staged, then, it is not complete. Anyway, so far, COMMEDIA INCOMPIUTA is my favorite play from the ones I’ve seen.  

The play starts with Pantalone sending Arlechinno with a message to let “certain family” know that he intends to marry their youngest daughter, Isabella. At the same time, Flaminio, (Pantalone’s son) asks Arlechinno to deliver a love letter to Isabella, whom he loves very much. Arlechinno, while conflicted with delivering both messages, is happy to go for he himself is in love with Smeraldina (Isabella’s servant) and this means he can see her.

Arlecchino & Flaminio/Brighella & Il Vecchio

Arlechinno gives both letters to Isabella and she in return tells Flaminio of his father’s plans. When Flaminio confronts Pantalone, his father tells Flaminio that the wedding has been agreed upon and preparations are on the way, in fact, two merchants are on their way to deliver the goods for the wedding. Flaminio, who is a hopeless romantic, tell Isabella the tragic news. It is at this moment when both, Isabella and Flaminio come with their own plan to stop the wedding. They, however, don’t share their plans with each other.

Flaminio disguised himself as a vecchio (old man) and Arlechinno becomes his servant Brighella. By doing so, they can stop the merchants delivering Pantalone’s wedding goods. At the same time, Isabella and Smeraldina disguised as witches, that way they can poison the merchants who are delivering the goods. I bet you can guess what happens. 

Company & Il Capitano (Center)

The play also contains a zanni character who acts as a fairy and the narrator of the story, setting up every scene along the way. Later, this character transforms itself into Il Capitano (from Puerto Rico) who claims to cure any bad symptoms (including poisoning) with his “tropical antidote.” 

This commedia dell’arte play was incredibly funny and I couldn’t stop laughing. Every single actor played their role to perfection, with clarity, energy, and gusto. They all interacted with the audience throughout the show. Sometime the interaction was planned while other times they just went along with the audience’s reactions. My favorite actor in this play was the innomorato Flaminio, mainly because I have never seen anyone represent “being in love” the way he did. Every action and reaction and every word he uttered was pure comedy and great acting. 

“Commedia Incompiuta” was presented by Compagnia Teatro dei Navigli:

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