This production is based on a fairy tale from Italy. It uses the origins of our conventional pantomime, basing the story in the traditions of ‘commedia dell’arte’. This genre of performance uses stock characters (Harlequin, Pierrot) alongside the ‘zanni’, the poorer country folk to create funny but often disturbing pieces of theatre. This play tells the tale of Isabella who is condemned to seven years of silence to save her brothers from hell-fire. Instead she has to us to sign language to communicate. She marries the Prince but events (and an evil mother in law, Fiorenetta) conspire against her and she is accused of being a witch after Fiorenetta tells the Prince she has given birth to a dog rather than a baby. Isabella, after spending time as a sailor and amongst a murdering gang, eventually finds her way back to the palace and, after being granted her voice again, is able to explain herself fully. The Prince asks for forgiveness and they are reunited. With stock characters and happenings (the foolish brothers, the ineffectual father, the domineering mother-in-law, the lovers separated and reunited, the Devil-character) this is a piece that points to its ‘commedia dell’arte’ roots.
“here is quality theatre-making that doesn’t condescend to its young audience…a sumptuous feast of images for eye, ear, heart and mind”. Mary Brennan, The Herald