The Duelist

Russell Tripp Performance Center

The Duelist is brilliant, hilarious, and scathing with current pop culture references. No one is safe in this high-energy dose of Commedia dell’ Arte which turns out to be the most refreshing theatre I’ve seen recently. My insides were laughing so hard but my face was frozen into one of wonderment, awe, appreciation, and pride for these LBCC theatre students.

The set was minimal with rich colors of fabric draped for the rapid entrances and exits, the costumes were elaborate in classic dell’ Arte fashion, and the timing was so spot on–physically, emotionally, lyrically with dialogue–I was mesmerized by the talent of these performers.

The show opens with an introduction by director Tinamarie Ivey who explains the history of Commedia dell’ Arte–the origin of slapstick. She carries and demonstrates the slapstick for those of us (hello me!) who are unaware or maybe less informed of the theatre we are about to experience. This introduction set the depth to my wonderment once the show began.

The show opens with music and a song about what we are about to see with musical interludes between scenes keeping the audience on track with the story. Piano– Jaysen St Onge; percussion/ sound effects– Theron Gentry; and singers– Grace Porter and Lexi Boone. There were also sign language interpreters stage right which must have been exhausted from translating. They were amazing!

The story centers around a young couple–Isabella and Orazio–not the smartest but the most determined to marry. Laurel Tannehill plays Isabella with such abandon, range, and fierce commitment, I couldn’t wait for her to return to the story. Joseph Johnson plays Orazio with a lovable density and boyish charm. It’s no wonder Isabella loves him–she’s obviously the boss of this relationship. Isabella’s father–Pantalone– doesn’t like Orazio and wants her to wed someone rich like him with the condition if he can’t find someone for her, then Isabella can marry her love. Falyn Lazarus plays Pantalone with ease, a sharp tongue, and misogyny without being offensive. Enter Capitano- a legend in his own mind- and his servant Pedrolino to convince Pantalone and Isabella he is the man to marry. Korina Rayburn plays Capitano so effortlessly with the physicality, dialogue, and energy, how could anyone not fall under Capitano’s spell? Sophia Brown plays Pedrolino with a tongue-in-cheekiness suggesting Pedrolino might be the smartest one in the story. High jinx abound and a resolution to this comedic drama had the audience wanting more. Literally, Pantalone had to come back after bows and chastise us for remaining in our seats after the show concluded. We wanted more, the show was over, time to leave. Leave! Go!

In case you haven’t figured it out, I loved this show so much I would’ve stayed and watched an encore. Not to sound stalker-y but I want to watch and study the mastery behind this group to witness the process of a show like this coming together. This show is conceived, written, and performed by this amazingly talented group, who worked and rehearsed about 4 weeks to get the material, staging, and timing perfected according to the director. Ivey is extremely proud of these performers and the emotion of it all tumbles out of her when she talks about these students and their achievements. Stage manager: Emily Lackner, Technical director: John Richard Elvin, and music: Alyson Fewless.

There are only TWO performances left! With limited seating–you MUST SEE THIS SHOW!!! Click HERE to purchase tickets for the 2 & 7:30 pm show.

For a great article on Commedia dell’ Arte, the history, characters, and style, click HERE. For a short overview in video, watch below:

See below for the masks worn by Pantalone and Capitano!

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