Ten Thousand Things theater company is known for producing classic theater to underserved audiences. It regularly performs Shakespeare to prisoners, Greek tragedies to the homeless, and musicals for rehab patients.
Now the company has taken on Italian comedy, with it’s production of Il Campiello. Adapted by local talent Stephen Epp, the show is infused with physical comedy. For three of our four reviewers, the show shines – for one reviewer, the show shines a bit too much.
Scroll down to read excerpts of reviews, and click on the links to read them in full.
Elise Langer, Kimberly Richardson, Sarah Agnew and Karen Wiese-Thompson in “Il Campiello”
Photo: Paula Keller
Ten Thousand Things Theater continues its remarkable run with Il Campiello, Steven Epp’s adaptation of Carlo Goldoni’s 18th-century comedy about the earthy denizens of a lower-class corner of Venice. A spot-on cast teams with director Michelle Hensley to produce a show that is at turns ribald, warm, and sad–just like real life.
“Campiello” is 90 wild minutes of theater in which nine actors take a full run at trying to top each other. Amid the controlled chaos are comic solo turns, juvenile putdowns and just enough love to create a celebration of humanity.
Hensley produces the best Shakespeare in town, she breaks down musicals to their spiritual core, and now we can add commedia to the list of reasons that make Ten Thousand Things an essential — not an optional — theater habit.
These characterizations come from the archetypes of commedia, but the respective strength of these performances and others gives the production an uneven sense of velocity. It’s not that these performers are trying to steal the spotlight; it’s more like there just isn’t enough spotlight to go around.
So while the show entertains, the herky-jerky energy of “Il Campiello” prevents the audience from giving itself completely to this gossamer tale.
Epp’s script, written in his distinctive voice, has the sound of children at spontaneous play. While it’s engaging in the moment, it’s also a bit like following the “plot” acted out by kids playing in the backyard: quick interactions strung together on a simple premise, such as “let’s play house,” or “let’s play wedding.”
…Of course there is a wedding–two, in fact–and a good bit of drinking to celebrate. That just makes for more rowdy, noisy fun. So, in the language of the play, “Don’t be a poop-turd.” Join in!
Have you seen “Il Campiello?” If so, what did you think? Share your review in the comments section.