8 – 30 Aug (not 16, 23), 2030 (2245); also 1330 (1545) Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays @ Assembly, Vittoria Restaurant, Leith Walk
By Danielle Farrow
In Goldoni’s La Locandiera or ‘The Mistress of the Inn’, the gentlemen fall at the feet of said mistress – all bar one, known in this production as ‘The Ulster Gentleman’. He has professed himself a hater of women who has never been in love and never will: bit of a challenge that – and La Locandiera herself, Mirandolina, takes it up to amusing and even thought-provoking effect.
This battle of the sexes is tantalisingly presented in one of Edinburgh’s most popular Italian restaurants complete with a five course meal (menu available from Wonderland Productions’ website). The food is fine and the story is very engaging as Mirandolina continues to play with her numerous competitive beaux while pursuing the affections of the recalcitrant gentleman.
The performances are confident and Mirandolina herself easily holds centre stage with a witty, teasing and layered performance. The audience is treated to bantering interaction from the cast, Goldoni’s witty dialogue amusingly delivered and enjoyed, and actors filling the space, seemingly familiar with the restaurant’s bar and handling these real props well. Fine serenading accompanies the food and punctuates the action, using popular pieces both classical and modern.
The laid-back feel of the presentation sometimes lacks forward momentum, though both Mirandolina and the Conte – her extravagantly rich admirer – tend to push things on again. The actor playing her loyal servant (and would-be husband) Fabrizio plays with the audience very well, also in his guise as the Ulster Gent’s servant. The Ulster Gent himself is not always completely audible, but uses the space well and puts in a strong physical performance.
The show itself is entertaining, both witty and interesting, and the nature of this dinner-entertainment presentation means that the company you keep and atmosphere in the restaurant will definitely contribute to your enjoyment of the piece: with the right companions (oh, the loneliness of the solo reviewer!) and a packed environment, this may well become a 4 star experience.
PLEASE NOTE – from two and a half hours before the performance start time, tickets can only be purchased or collected at the restaurant itself.