|Photo by Peter Vitale|
Theater is never easy, but it certainly can have a leg up with great artists behind the scenes and onstage. That has always been one of Ten Thousand Things' great strengths, and that's absolutely evident in Il Campiello
, which is currently taking a free tour to locations around Minnesota before opening for the paying public on October 28.
Watching the likes of Sarah Agnew, Nathan Keepers, Christiana Clark, and
Randy Reyes romping onstage together is a delight to start out with,
toss in a funny and probing adaptation of the work by Steven Epp, and
typically expert direction from Michelle Hensley, and you have a perfect
The action takes place in a small Italian square on the final days of Carnival. For the residents, the celebration is something that others get to enjoy. Meanwhile, they toil in their work or, in the case of three young women, dream of being married or at least being able to escape the confines of their own homes. Into this mad and raucous world comes the Cavalier, a tourist visiting for the celebration. He is entranced by these relationships, and develops an at-distance love of Gasparina, one of the unwed girls in the square.
While the plot carries the story forward, it is really the moments of joy, humor, sadness, and pain that carry the day here. The Cavalier (brought to life beautifully by Reyes) is definitely an outsider, from his halting, not-exactly perfect talks, to his odd gestures of friendship, to a certain aloofness from the earthy denizens of the square, who trade insults as often as greetings.
The fun is infectious, whether it be playing innocent street games (one involves finding pennies in lumps of dough) or the older women sharing the day's gossip. There are darker moments here as well, as the confines of the society weigh heavily on the characters. Our young heroines don't have much of an escape, as they go from being prisoners of their mother's homes to being bonded with their men, be they rich tourists or not.
So as the cast heads off following a twin wedding, there is a bittersweet tang to all that has proceeded. Sure, fortunes have been regained and something like love has been found, but once the festival ends, you know that all will return to what it was, full of joy, laughter, pain, and arguments. Our characters love life, but you can't fail to notice that it is nearly impossible for them to escape from the tiny confines of their square.
For a complete list of performances, visit www.tenthousandthings.org