Black Box Players close 20th season with Machiavellian comedy ‘The Mandrake’ beginning April 21
Black Box Players close 20th season with Machiavellian comedy ‘The Mandrake’ beginning April 21April 19, 2006Jaime Winne Alvarezjlwinne@syr.edu
Syracuse University’s Black Box Players will close its 20th anniversary season with Niccolo Machiavelli’s comedy “The Mandrake,” adapted by Frederick May and Eric Bentley. The show opens April 21 and runs through April 29 at the Black Box Theatre located in the Regent Theatre Complex, which houses the SU Drama Department and Syracuse Stage at 820 E. Genesee St.
Set in early-sixteenth century Italy, “The Mandrake” is a satirical comedy exploring themes of fidelity, greed and sex. The story begins with the return of young Callimaco to his native Italy after spending 20 years in Paris. Callimaco comes home to pursue the beautiful Lucrezia, who happens to be married and extremely virtuous. With the help of a few colorful characters, Callimaco devises a scheme involving disguises, deceit and a special potion made from the root of a mandrake. Hilarity ensues, making “The Mandrake” a comic masterpiece.
Written sometime between 1512 and 1520, the comedy is considered to be one of Machiavelli’s most popular plays. It became an extremely influential play and is said to have “helped to establish conventions of erudite comedy in Italy.” Supposedly based on an actual occurrence, “The Mandrake” satirizes corruption in Italian society.
The cast of “The Mandrake” includes 12 students from SU’s Department of Drama. Junior Danny Gordon is young lover Callimaco and senior Jenny Jordon is the highly sought-after Lucrezia. Assisting Callimaco in his plan to pursue Lucrezia is the wily matchmaker Ligurio, played by senior Chris Carpenter. Senior Adam Dornbusch is Callimaco’s servant, Siro.
Lucrezia’s dimwitted husband, Messer Nicia, will be played by senior Ross Gallo, and her mother, Sostrata, will be played by senior Jessica Lara Mortellaro. Junior Joe Tannenbaum appears at the cunning Friar Timoteo with junior Amy Kurtz as a woman. Rounding out the cast are members of the chorus–senior Tug Watson, junior Raina Helen Fraley and sophomores Jason N. Mesches and Brittany Anne Oman.
The Italian Square set was designed by Jim Koehnle, who serves as props carpenter at Syracuse Stage. Sophomore costume designer Adam Adelman captures the personalities of each of the characters. The comic mood of the piece is enhanced by senior Michael Bosh’s lighting design and senior Neil Roberts’ sound design. Sophomore Holly M. Breuer serves as stage manager.
All Black Box Players productions are free of charge to the public. Seating is limited, so audience members should arrive at least one half hour prior to the performance to assure seating. To make reservations, leave a message on the Black Box Players’ voice mailbox at 443-2102. (All requests will receive a follow-up phone call from the box office.) Parking is available at the Syracuse University Parking Lot and the Madison/Irving Garage, both located across from the Regent Theatre Complex on Irving Ave. For more information, visit http://www.blackboxplayers.org.