Feature

Stage: The Miracle at Naples

In David Grimm's recreation of a sixteenth-century commedia dell’arte, an itinerant theatrical troupe wreaks havoc on Naples for two days during the feast of its patron saint, San Gennaro.

Boston Center for the Arts(617) 266-0800

**

“Sixteenth-century commedia dell’arte certainly didn’t shy away from crudity,” said Sandy MacDonald in Theatermania.com. But playwright David Grimm’s recreation of the form “pushes the envelope” from the opening line— “To hell with my virginity”—uttered by the sheltered ingénue Flaminia. Her duenna soon provides instructions on how to lose said virginity, which Flaminia follows with not one but two traveling actors, the rapscallion Tristano and the blockheaded Matteo. But they turn out to be more interested in each other than in any ménage à trois. Grimm peppers scenes such as these with a “contemporary sensibility” and more curse words than a rap song, but the characters are too loosely drawn, and the humor insufficient, to pull The Miracle at Naples out of the gutter.

Grimm is true to the essence of commedia dell’arte in the sense that “no double-entendre goes unpushed, no comic flourish unembellished,” said Louise Kennedy in The Boston Globe. The play concerns an itinerant theatrical troupe that wreaks havoc on Naples for two days during the feast of its patron saint, San Gennaro. But the playwright seems more interested in making a point about hidebound morality than he is in crafting a comedy. There’s a bit of preachiness inherent in many of Naples’ scenes, a sort of “Look how funny this all is—and think how silly the world is not to be this free-spirited.” The carefree spirit provides for plenty of fleeting entertainment, but it’s a bit “odd to sit through two hours of profanity-larded, crotch-grabbing, bosom-heaving comedy and come away feeling as if you’ve been read a sermon.”

Recommended

The daily gossip: June 11, 2021
Kim and Kanye.
Daily gossip

The daily gossip: June 11, 2021

The revenge of the sitcom wife
Annie Murphy.
Opinion

The revenge of the sitcom wife

The daily gossip: June 10, 2021
Prince Harry.
Daily gossip

The daily gossip: June 10, 2021

The daily gossip: June 9, 2021
Kanye West.
Daily gossip

The daily gossip: June 9, 2021

Most Popular

7 toons about the Dems' Joe Manchin problem
Political Cartoon.
Feature

7 toons about the Dems' Joe Manchin problem

Bad for Democrats. Good for democracy?
A voter.
Picture of Joel MathisJoel Mathis

Bad for Democrats. Good for democracy?

Harry and Meghan insist they asked queen about daughter's name
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
royal drama

Harry and Meghan insist they asked queen about daughter's name