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Saturday, July 28th, 5:15 p.m.
They Say: “A cheesy take on romance from DC’s awardwinning Commedia dell’Arte company. Over 40 of your favorite actors perform a sampler platter of inventive, original scenarios. Critics call Faction of Fools ‘witty and intelligent’ with ‘awesome feats of physical comedy.’ ASL interpretation at all shows.”
As we watched the ensemble of Faction of Fools’ 3rd Annual “Fool for All” morph their bodies into a Shelob-esque spider and gobble up Capitano and Pantalone, the friend I took to the show turned to me said, “this is like watching a live-action carton.” It’s a decent way to sum up “Graters of the Lost Cheese”, or any of the skits that comprise the Commedia dell ‘Arte showcase that is Tales of Marriage and Mozzarella. I’ve attended and reviewed the “Fool for All” three years in a row, and their shenanigans delight me every time.
Quite a bit of hoopla attended this year’s “Fool for All.” The Faction of Fools Theatre Company kicked the theatrical stakes into high gear this year by staging the real-life nuptials of Carrie Suggs and Thad Brown on July 21st. On the evening I went, they staged a wedding but no one was actually required to get hitched. The cast tossed a bouquet into the audience in order to select the bride and groom. When the bouquet fell into the lap of a second bride, the MC declared that this was DC and no one would mind. This earned him the biggest round of applause of the evening, and both ladies seemed game to pretend to marry each other.
All the scenes make a mockery of marriage in some way. Well, perhaps not the institution itself, but certainly the awkward rites of passage and ludicrous extravagances that go along with tying the knot. Using the masks, stock characters, broad physical comedy and improvisation the defines the Commedia dell “Arte, the ensemble of forty DC-based actors creates several scenes and plays them in different combinations, so each show is a unique experience.
The scenes from Tales of Marriage and Mozzarella that are most interesting are those which make use of this style from the Italian Renaissance to comment on our society and its’ absurdities. I have seen a number of Faction of Fools productions and the tools of Commedia can be wielded to profound effect when it comes to interpreting a classical text. In their Romeo and Juliet, for instance, the Mercutio/ Tybalt fight started off as nothing more than young boys playing at swords. It was all fun and games until Mercutio actually got stabbed. His death felt truly senseless, and the scene has never made so much sense.
In the skit “The Wedding Planner” a bride is seduced away from her notion of a simple and inexpensive wedding by a tag team of planner, baker, tailor and chocolatier. It’s both hilarious and a totally believable scenario. After all, if this world of bling and Bridezillas doesn’t deserve to be made a real mockery of, what does?
The “Fool for All” is intended to present the improvised nature of commedia, but it could be exciting to watch Faction of Fools further develop Commedia’s potential for satire.
See It If: You can’t beat live action cartoons!
Skip It If: Goofballs prancing and masked revelry strikes you as thin on substance.