Adelaide Fringe – A Solo Commedia dell’ Arte Show

From the moment Andrew Crupi took the tiny but beautiful stage in the Yurt at the Migration Museum, you know you are in exceptionally good hands.

The show begins quietly; Andrew opens a suitcase and takes out a crown, a club, a note, and then, reverently, several gorgeous, hand-made leather masks. Each prop is given a quality, and each mask has a gag attached in its reveal – these little touches immediately imbue character into the mundane.

The opening is almost ritualistic; it gives us space to settle into the world Andrew created for us. And what a world it is. In the end, Andrew tells the audience some of his bonafide. He has trained as an actor and teacher, then specified in Commedia dell’ arte over the last eleven years, training under the master Antonio Fava.

As the show unfolds and the mellifluous score by Jake Morrison swells, it’s abundantly clear that we are in the hands of an exceptional performer. Channelling the physicality of Charlie Chaplin, the facial expressions of Rowan Atkinson, and vocal qualities and accents too many to name, Andrew is an unbelievably versatile performer.

The story itself is deceptively simple – we travel with a romantic farm boy, Flavio, as he attempts to woo the heart of the Princess in the tower. To do this, he must journey into the fearsome dark forest – but other hunters are going there too to claim the Princess’s heart as a prize if they can bring the club of the giant back.

Flavio is presented without a mask, and the other characters – Pantalone, Capitano, Zanni, etc are presented with unique masks that utterly transform Andrew as he deftly shifts between roles. The reveal of the giant in the dark forest is one of the funniest and most spectacular moments of the show.

Like a wizard in this magical space, Andrew takes us on a journey back in time. It’s a show which pays deep homage to this 500-year-old art form yet is bristlingly contemporary. It’s a show that is in debt to the comedy history and reflects on Andrew’s heritage as an Italian-Australian.

Andrew is a master craftsman, and seeing this style, which is often attempted but rarely executed well, achieved so expertly is a true delight. “A Solo Commedia dell’ Arte Show” is unlike anything else in the Fringe. Additionally, it works for any age – so bring your family.

In a festival where there are sometimes too many half-baked, thrown-together pieces of work, it’s refreshing and exhilarating to witness a work where every moment is considered.

Andrew’s detail, specificity, comic timing and stage presence are inspiring. At the culmination, we are reminded of storytelling’s power and the importance of laughing together.

A Solo Commedia Del Arte Show is at the Yurt Migration Museum on the 2nd and 3rd of March at 2.00 pm and Comida in Hahndorf on the 10th of March at 2.00 pm.

This review also appears on It’s On The House, and check out more reviews at Dark Stories Theatre to see what else is on in your town.

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