Eugene Weekly : Theatre : 7.7.11


Commedia for Kids
Mad Duckling Childrens Theatre Presents The Commedia Pinocchio
By Anna Grace

Is there anything funnier to a kid than two old men being tricked by a mischievous block of wood? If there is, it probably takes the shape of puppets beating one another with nerf noodles, or a fox swindling money out of a greedy innocent. This being the case, the Mad Duckling production of The Commedia Pinocchio has it all.

“I want you to tell people its a really good play,” my son Owen said earnestly as we left the grassy slope at Amazon. “It is so funny. ” Not only was the play a delight for my children, but as an adult I enjoyed watching a well-executed example of Commedia dell’arte.

Commedia dell’arte is an Italian, Renaissance-era comedy style that loosely translates to “freakin hysterical.” In commedia, stock characters follow a rough outline of a script and engage in highly physical comedy. Vaudeville, the Marx Brothers and Mel Brooks are all part of the lineage of commedia dell’arte.

Mad Duckling has created a wonderful website you can visit with your kiddos for a primer on commedia, although the young ones wont have any trouble following the actions without a lesson.

In The Commedia Pinocchio, audiences are watching the stock characters put on a play. Mischievous Arlequin (Katelyn Elias) becomes the mischievous fox. Sweet Rosetta (Maddy Weatherhead) plays the sweet blue fairy. Pantolone (Tim Vergano) is a money grubbing buffoon in both settings. Owen really enjoyed the antics of Philip Morton, the puffed-up Punchin. My daughter Margaret was enthralled by Jesselyn Parks as Columbine/Pinocchio.

While Owen laughed and anticipated the tricksters next move, Margaret sat round-eyed, a little worried about the naughty puppets fate. Pinocchio has some tough lessons to learn, and this script is easier on our children than were the original 19th-century storytellers.

As always with Mad Duckling, bring a blanket and some snacks, and get there early for a spot in the shade. Im looking forward to another day on the pig blanket to see Mad Ducklings next adventure in commedia, the upcoming Puss in Boots. I hear its going to have a real slapstick!

Pinocchio runs July 5 to July 9, and July 12 to July 16, at 11 am in Amazon Park; tickets for the plays are $5 for ages 3 and above, and can be purchased at the door; discounts are available for groups of 10 or more.


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