Madness is Unleashed on The Hollywood Fringe

by Tony Bartolone

Staff Writer

pLAywriting in the city

The Divine Madness of Isabella is a fast-paced whirlwind of a show about internal and external drama surrounding the life Isabella Andreini, the greatest actress of the Commedia dell’arte. Wendy Gough brings to life twenty-plus characters in this exhaustive effort.

Wendy Gough in The Divine Madness of Isabella, one of three shows from Theater Unleashed at the 2012 Hollywood Fringe Festival.

Rich in poetry, theatre and history, the one-woman show has plenty going on, perhaps too much. There is a certain disconnect with this piece. Gough is obviously a well-trained, talented actress, and there is an onslaught of interesting elements and themes flying around stage. However, the show never really catches its breath. It was fun to learn about a Commedia dell’arte actress, but the whole show is slammed together in a way that makes it a bit muddy.

There is an appreciable amount of creativity and innovation that makes this more than the average one-person show. The use of masks and puppetry adds color to the action. Ultimately though, the characters run together, and in turn, the conflict is obscured. The tension in this play isn’t given enough weight. It is an ambitious feat for any actor to attempt a project like this, and it is admirable. I suggest you see the show and join the discussion.

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