This new translation of the 18th-century comedy La Locandiera, by Italian playwright Carlo Goldoni, is brought to life by the sheer exuberance and vitality of the cast. Their impassioned performances clearly come from a strong affinity for the work and are a delight to behold.
The story revolves around scheming seductress and innkeeper, Mirandolina (Elizabeth Keates) and her attempts to win over a self-proclaimed woman hater, the Knight of Ripafratta (Maurice Byrne), who is staying in the inn. Meanwhile, the gloriously camp, penny-pinching Count of Albafiorita (Alex Barclay) and the Marquess of Forlipopoli (Edward Kingham), a nouveau riche fop, compete for her affections.
From a modern day perspective, the notion of women as flirts and men as simpletons can seem a little archaic and the play has lost some of its relevance over time. But while its themes echo those of The Taming of the Shrew, it’s also possible to see Goldoni’s influence on latter day farce.
Katherine Gregor’s translation captures Goldoni’s fresh simplicity and lightness, but the language can shift oddly between historical and contemporary idioms. Most commendable are Andrea Hooyman’s direction, which is energetic and physical, and the cast, who embrace their roles with aplomb and provide a thoroughly enjoyable evening.