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Mandrake - Jack Studio Theatre

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

MANDRAKE, the popular Machiavellian classic, receives its first London revival for almost 30 years at the Jack Studio Theatre, where it runs from Tuesday, May 28 to Saturday, June 15, 2013.

One of the landmarks of the Italian Renaissance, Mandrake contained all the essential ingredients of the modern farce of intrigue – marriage, lust, adultery, corruption and deceit.

This new adaptation reunites Howard Colyer, who adapted Niccolò Machiavelli salacious farce for Nameless Theatre, and director Scott Le Crass who previously collaborated on Nameless Theatre’s Homework.

Taking place over 48 hours, the plot is typical of Machiavelli’s plays: Callimaco wants Lucrezia but Lucrezia is married to Sir Nicia. Sir Nicia wants children. Ligurio wants to please both Callimaco and Sir Nicia. But what happiness can Lucrezia find? And Siro, the unpaid servant, how can he turn things to his advantage?

First performed in 1520 during the Carnival in Florence, Mandrake was an immediate popular success, and the fame of the work soon spread throughout Italy. In Venice, the audience was so attracted to the play that people overwhelmed the stage and made it impossible to complete. It also made Pope Leo X and his cardinals delirious with delight over its scenes of clerical corruption.

Playwright Howard Colyer said: “It’s an excellent play, and highly influential, but it’s been neglected in London in recent years, which is why I wanted to write a new adaptation. The play also helps broaden the popular view of Machiavelli, who was far more famous as a playwright when he died, than as a writer on politics.”

Playwright and novelist Howard Colyer’s previous works include Trojan Women (2013), Kafka v Kafka (2012), Finchley Road (2012), Homework (2011), Conference Call (2011) and The Overcoat (2011). His novels include Gregory Gun and Oldshaw. He has also translated Kafka’s Letter to my Father.

Scott Le Crass’ directing credits include Homework (The London Theatre), Macbeth (Greenwich Playhouse), The Trunk (Old Red Lion, Off Cut Festival finalist), Work by John R. Gordon and Vision of Pride by Gbolahan Obisesan (Golden Delilah/Theatre 503).

The cast includes Jean Apps (as Sostrata), Piers Hunt (Nicia), Annie Lees-Jones (Siro), John McInnes (Ligurio), Andy McLeod (Timoteo), Ruth E Mortimer (Lucrezia) and Will Parrott (Callimaco).

Mandrake is designed by Kemey Lafond, with lighting by Tom Boucher and sound by Neil McKeown .

Mandrake is suitable for a.ges 14+

Tickets: £13, £10 – available from the box office on 0844 8700 887 or online at www.brockleyjack.co.uk/.

Times: Tuesday to Saturday at 7.45pm; Saturday matinee (June 8) at 4pm.

Running Time: 80 minutes (no interval).

Write Now 4 runs at the Jack Studio Theatre from May 4 to May 25, 2013.