Venturina Venturina

Hamilton Gardens, Medici Court, Hamilton

19/02/2012 - 22/02/2012

Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival 2012

Production Details

Exactly 10 years ago to the day, Venturina Venturina was performed at the Medici Court, heralding its opening as a performance space February 2002.

On this anniversary we will be returning with the same show to celebrate 10 years of Italian Beauty in Hamilton.

Venturina Venturina is a high paced high energy farcical comedy set in a small Italian square.

The play is about youth in the pursuit of love and age reminiscing loves lost.

If you are young or have ever been young, you wont be able to help but enjoy yourself in our Little Square. 

Tainui Tukiwaho Venturina is the producer and director. Tainui was a part of the original cast that opened the Medici court 10 years ago and is now returning with the new cast.

Medici Court, Hamilton Gardens 
Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival 2012 

19 February 2012, 6:00pm

20 February 2012, 6:00pm

21 February 2012, 8:00pm

22 February 2012, 8:00pm

Adult: $20.00 Concession: $15.00 Ticketek

Splendid ensemble acting with pace, timing and energy

Review by Gail Pittaway 22nd Feb 2012

What a treat to see such a classic old charmer of a play and so well acted.  

The life of Carlo Goldoni, the Italian author of this comedy, spanned much of the eighteenth century and bridged the theatrical styles between commedia dell’arte with its masks and stock characters and Moliere’s more biting satires of society and manners. This context is very clear in this short and boisterous play which champions the poor and mocks the upper classes, while showing us the nitty gritty of both sides.

Originally called The Little Square, it’s about a small Venetian community of poor hardworking folk who are intrigued by the arrival in their midst of a visiting foppish nobleman, during the time of Carnivale. Although they don’t wear masks they are still caricatured, especially the three wonderful old women characters, and the dialogue and gesture seem operatic, despite some anachronistic modern phrases.

Goldoni was a prolific writer and while he wrote many opera libretti and also wrote plays, still more of his plays have later been turned into operas. There is a choreographic element to this performance which is entirely appropriate, especially in the many tussles and fight scenes. While the content is simple and undemanding, it is the very ordinariness of the people contrasting with the extraordinariness of their passions which makes it so interesting; more soap opera than tragic opera in effect.

The current production from Smack Bang Theatre Company comes on the tenth anniversary of a production of the same play brought by Michael Morris andAucklandactors to the newly opened Medici Court Garden inHamilton, to much acclaim. The play has a cast of ten, six of whom are women, so it’s a great vehicle and challenge for actors with its rises and falls of peace and passion, fights and feasting and a great deal of shouting; especially when the cast has to move to the wet weather venue some nights, rather than stay in the uncovered Medici Court.

This cast is uniformly good, with their strong voices and flashing eyes the most striking abilities in all. Despite the accoustics in the covered venue occasionally blurring the Italian accents, their gestures and passionate performances carry the meaning well.

Two middle-aged widows, Donna Catte with few teeth (Amanda Rees) and Donna Pasqua with poor hearing (Aroha Rawson), are at the centre of the squabbles, competing with each other to marry off their daughters and appear younger than they are. Their daughters, a fiery Lucietta (Caroline Muller) and Gnese (Arianne Guanzon) are also not slow to take or give offence and much of the play’s comedy derives from the speed with which they fight and make up.

Their suitors, the hot-headed Anzoletto (Mark Halliday) and Mummy’s boy Zorzetto (Josh Harriman), match them in rash overreactions. Zorzetto’s Mamma is played by a bearded Mark Scott and adds to the general discord with enthusiasm.

The arguments run over into rage, even violence, which is hard to take in our more socially aware times, however quite a lot of the violence is from and by female characters. The older women in particular are great comic roles, mercurial in temper and turn of phrase, suspicious of all but the flatterer.

Even more of a caricature is the outsider Cavalier, played in full pantaloons and with leaps and prances by Ben Van Lier. The local representative of the upper level of society in the little square is not much higher than the rest, having won his riches with a lottery; but Fabrizio (Boni Tukiwaho) is a stern and suspicious guardian of his pretty, silly ward, Gasparina (Ascia Maybury), whose aspirations to high society are not matched by intellectual ability.

With few props but period dresses for the pretty girls to flounce in and male dress delineating poverty or wealth, director Tainui Tukiwaho quickly moves the characters in and out of arches and doors, to the centre of the little square, for gossip or a fight, then back to their doorways for respite. There are no pauses of pace and the timing and energy gather the audience along through ninety minutes of splendid ensemble acting.   


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