Review "The Mandrake": Comedic Twist on Adultery

Audio Podcast at ITUNES 
Narrated by Joshua Volkers
At 1531 N. Wells Street
Written by Niccolo Machiavelli
Translated by Peter Constantine
Directed by Steve Scott
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8pm
Sundays at 3pm
Thru May 22nd
Running Time:  Ninety minutes with no intermission
Reviewed by Katy Walsh
A guy elaborately schemes to screw someone’s wife. The trickery involves deceiving the  justice system, the church and a young woman.  Sounds like a perfect Machiavellian plot!  A Red Orchid Theatre presents THE MANDRAKE.  A rich man solicits the support of the village to dupe a doofus lawyer.  The unsuspecting attorney is told of the fertility powers of a mandrake plant.  Although it seems a perfect solution for his barren wife, he is told the side affects may kill the person having sex with her. The foolish attorney begs a doctor to bed his wife to test the death theory.  The doctor is the sly rich man in disguise.  Add in a priest and a mother, the double-dealing hoax triples and quadruples as deceit pays off.  THE MANDRAKE conceives a comedic twist on adultery.
Under the direction of Steve Scott, the burlesque antics are personal.  Characters break the fourth wall to guffaw with the audience. in the lead, Lance Baker (Ligurio) narrates as a seasoned scammer.  Baker hilariously hosts the shenanigans.  He buddies up with the audience with wine offers for a just-between-you-and-me storytelling.  He plays it straight with an extra oomph.  Steve Haggard (Callimaco) exudes energetic enthusiasm in his sex quest.  A smiling Haggard seduces the audience to support him on the trickery. His quick, witty banter with his servant, Brian Kavanaugh’s (Siro), is slapstick funny.  As the targeted dolt, Doug Vickers (Messer Nicia) is hysterically obtuse.  Vickers’ exaggerated arrogance garners laughs and support for the ruse against him. 
Playwright Niccolo Machiavelli wrote THE MANDRAKE in the 1500’s.  The rebellious Machiavelli was arrested and tortured for his political convictions.  Not surprisingly, THE MANDRAKE is a satire on ‘the establishment.’  It’s a story where money buys happiness, the bad guy wins it in the end and no one has a lesson learned.  It’s light and frothy vaudeville.  THE MANDRAKE feels like Saturday Night Live LIVE.  Some of the sketch scenes feel stilted and forced.  Others are comedically memorable. The best schticks are blown-out, blustery, buffoonery!  A Red Orchid plantsTHE MANDRAKE on fertile ground for laughable entertainment.               
Reintroducing me to the great Old Town Ale House haunt, Tom describes it with ‘acrid, tongue-in-cheek farce.’

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