Hip Shot: Love Letter Lost
Tuesday, July 22nd at 8:30 p.m.
Thursday, July 24th at 7:45 p.m.
Saturday, July 26th at 2:15 p.m.
They Say: Commedia dell'arte is real life reflected in a filthy funhouse mirror. Familiar desires and struggles are stretched and distorted to absurdity. In Love Letter Lost, meet two houses, both alike in indignity: bratty lovers, mischievous servants and lustful, battling parents.
Marshall's Take: Love Letter Lost is not your typical homegrown, rough-cut Fringe comedy. If you're here for jokes about internships and a smell of desperation in the air, this is not the show for you. But if you’re looking for contenders for the best comedy Fringe has to offer, I think we may have just got beaten on our home turf by a gang of out-of-towners.
Tut’Zanni Theatre Company’s Capital Fringe debut delights the audience with energetic comedy, accessible characters, and skilled performers. It helps that Tut’Zanni is comprised of graduates from Accademia dell'Arte in Tuscany, which is itself rooted in centuries of comedy.
For the uninitiated, commedia dell’arte is a unique mix of improvisation, physical comedy, and classical tropes. This style began as street theatre in 16th century Italy, and its heritage shines in Love Letter Lost.
The show runs cleaner than any improvisational Fringe show has the right to run. The performances are ever-evolving, and freshly concocted lines can make even cast members watching from the on-stage wings double over with genuine laughter. When the cast turns to the audience for suggestions, these additions blend smoothly into the flow of the show. I had the opportunity to see the script, which was more of a set list than anything else, and yet the show always looked polished to a shine.
Not simply painting by numbers, Tut’Zanni makes the form their own, as demonstrated by Allegra Libonati and Molly Tomhave, playing Magnifica and Dottore respectively. The two pompous matriarchs have been fighting since an incident in Dottore’s dorm room, which is peculiar both for the modern backstory and the gender of these traditionally male characters. But, as with every other choice in this production, the changes are smart and serve the spirit of the law well.
From the moment the house opens and the cast begins chatting one-on-one with audience members, Tut’Zanni makes the Gearbox feel like their home, and they make their guests welcome. Laughs and applause come easy. After all, they’re well deserved.
See it if: You don’t want to miss a fantastic theatre company while they’re briefly in town.
Skip it if: You eat, sleep, and breathe local.