By Danielle Farrow
I Dilettanti capture the spirit of Commedia dell’ Arte with this enjoyable farce, full of character posturings, ridiculous plottings and plenty of sexual innuendo.
The Prawn King within the piece is a version of Macbeth set underwater with fishes, penned by lecherous Pantalone, Lady Langoustina to be played by would-be actress Isabella and – if he can be persuaded despite his theatre-phobia – MacPrawn to be played by Pantalone’s son Cavaliere. Servants Zanni and Columbina are, of course, the only ones able to save the day when things go wrong.
The performers do not seem to be trained in precise commedia physicality, but the characters are still clear in their movement. Pantalone has a voice that is naturally high rather than quavering and not really connected to body, but played with much energy. Columbina doesn’t seem engaged with her set physical characteristics, but provides light humorous touches – even when swearing – while Isabella is happy to commit to more outrageous sounds, Zanni is convincingly Italian in his accent and moves well, and Cavaliere puts his eyebrows to good use, as well as his sardonic delivery. Comedic timing is not always spot on, but works well for the most part, and there were a lot of laughs, well-earned.
The show is staged very simply, without set and with barely any props, and makes self-references to things like this which are apt and often quite witty. Wit is also evident in the text and in songs, Disney-based, whose lyrics are adapted to the underwater setting of the strange Macbeth that is presented.
The Prawn King has a well-penned script and a fresh energy that creates a fun production which carries its audience with it. It claims to be ‘a modern satire on the rise of the musical’ but rather lacks bite in this respect, however it is a lovely, light piece of entertainment that should have you chuckling away and often laughing outright.