Polishing the best silver

The Mistress of the Inn

By Carlo Goldoni
with a new English translation by Michael McCurdy and J. Scott Reynolds
Directed by Adam Houghton
Handcart Ensemble
American Theatre of Actors
Equity showcase (closed)
Review by Julie Halpern

Handcart Ensemble has distinguished itself with exemplary translations of classics many theatre students have read, but which are seldom staged. Their latest offering, Goldoni's delightful comedia dell'arte romp, was given a spirited, elegant translation by Michael McCurdy and J. Scott Reynolds, and fun-loving treatment by Handcart's finely tuned ensemble. The story was seamlessly updated to the 1950s. Director Adam Houghton's deft touch and gentle humor guided the hijinks that never deteriorated into slapstick or obscenity, both of which are common traps in commedia productions. This production should serve as an example to show that updated comic classics need not be vulgar to be uproariously entertaining.
Mirandolina is the high-spirited mistress of an inn frequented by wealthy aristocrats, many of whom are smitten with her. The coquettish Mirandolina makes good-natured sport of her many admirers, driving them to distraction. The Marquis of Forlipopoli and the Count of Albafiorta think themselves the major players until the supposedly woman-hating Cavalier Ripafratta comes on the scene. Predictably, he too falls hard for Mirandolina. The proceedings are enlivened by the appearance of Ortensia and Dejanira, two actresses passing themselves off as noblewomen. Ultimately, Mirandolina mends her flirtatious ways and decides to marry Fabrizio, a valet at the inn, who was her late father's choice for her.
Veronique Enos's Mirandolina charmed the audience with her warmth and free-spirited sense of humor. Barrett Ogden was a whirlwind of manic energy as the handsome Ripafratta. Kevin Ashworth's pompous, posturing Marquis was a riot, as was Ian Gonzalez's matinee-idol Count. Tod Mason was extremely appealing as Fabrizio, the voice of reason amidst the chaos. Meredith Higbee's Dejanira was a deliciously vacuous, blonde bombshell, and Caroline Stone's glamorous, worldly Ortensia was a delight. Reynolds was adorable as Ripafratta's bungling servant, who was in constant danger of losing his pants.
The simple set (uncredited) set off the exquisite period costumes by Mireille Enos and the subtle, effective lighting by Tamara Shelp.
Writing 2
Directing 2
Acting 2
Set Design 1
Costumes 2
Lighting/Sound 1