BWW Review: THE NOISY NEIGHBORS OR IL CAMPIELLO - Different Stages At Trinity Street Theatre

Some comedies tickle the funnybone, some evoke a warmth that makes your heart glow, Different Stages current production, THE NOISY NEIGHBORS OR IL CAMPIELLO by Carlo Goldoni and adapted by Richard Nelson succeeds on both levels, resulting in a completely delightful evening at the theatre.

First performed at the 1756 Carnival in Venice, the play is set in a small residential square or IL CAMPIELLO, where the neighbors live in such close proximity that they cannot help but be in each other's business. A Venetian by birth Goldoni knew these characters and situations as few others would. The love with which he wrote his play is apparent in the touching imperfectly drawn characters. The play is in the style of Commedia dell'Arte, but only in a very broad sense. The lovers, the parents, the noblemen, all appear to have more depth than a usual Commedia production where the actors have rigid character models and short, sketches to perform. The people who live in the square are Gasparina (Chelsea Beth) a young woman with ideas above her station, Donna Catte (Eva McQuade) the toothless widow who is desperate to marry off her daughter so she can find a new husband for herself. Catte's daughter Lucietta (Annie Kim Hendrick) is as eager to wed the local peddler Anzoletto (Chip Connell) as he is to marry her. Donna Pasqua (Katherine Schroeder) with her young daughter Gnese (Sara Snyder) hope to make a match with the widow next door, Orsola (Hanna Haida) and her son Zorzetto (Will Douglas) where the youngsters will marry in two years. Add in a mysterious stranger from Milan (Craig Kanne), a snobby uncle (Michael Lucas) and a waiter (Adam A. Martinez) plus five doors, two balconies, and three windows you have the makings of a light hearted farce.

Director Norman Blumensaadt has a well earned reputation for bringing to life little gems of theatre history or shows that normally wouldn't have a wide audience. THE NOISY NEIGHBORS is just such a gem. Funny and full of life, this show charms the crowd from beginning to end. Blumensaadt uses the Trinity Street Theatre to its fullest moving actors on and off stage with song, dance in full force farce. The performance is infused in a Commedia style from the acting to the physical comedy. Cast standouts include the always funny Eva McQuade, as a scheming mama, ready for an empty nest. As the more cautious, but no less scheming mother Katherine Schroeder is a delight. Craig Kanne, is hilarious as the mysterious stranger who steps on a few toes in the town square. But it's Chelsea Beth who stands above the talented cast with her lisping delivery and spot on timing. I must note that I loved the songs within the play, they were sung imperfectly by the cast which in itself is perfection. Their joy in singing is evident, giving a feeling of everyday people singing from the heart rather than polished professionals giving a performance. The accompaniment of Stevie Trudell on the concertina along with cast members on a guitar, ukulele and tambourine is appealing in every way. The set by Ann Marie Gordon is lovely and fits nicely in a space notoriously difficult for designers. Ann Ford's costume design is excellent; giving the whole show an anywhere/anytime feel that is subtle and comforting. On the whole the entire production is the theatre equivalent of comfort food.

I highly recommend THE NOISY NEIGHBORS OR IL CAMPIELLO for its charm, humor and great escapist entertainment. The bonus is that it's also a wonderful piece of theatre history that doesn't come around very often.

Photos by Bret Brookshire

by Carlo Goldoni, adaptation by Richard Nelson
Directed by Norman Blumensaadt
Different Stages at Trinity Street Theatre
901 Trinity Street, Austin
January 6 - 28

Running Time: 2 hours with one 15 minute intermission

Tickets: $30 - $20,

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From This Author Lynn Beaver