In the darkness, we can hear someone fiddling with an old matchbox. The matchbox is scratched frantically. The matchbox, and then we listen to it glow and then see Danny Ronaldo taking a first look at his amazing expressive and constricting face. The lights go out. Another match is played with and then lit. Another time. Another. Out. And finally, the white candle that is on the tablecloth with a check is lit in the Italian restaurant.
Danny is looking around and at the roof of the tent. There is a chandelier hanging there with additional candles that have to be lit. Even sitting at the table, on the table in a chair, or on plates placed in the chair on the table, he is unable to get to the candle. The only way that he’s going to ignite these candles would be to get onto the chandelier. Then, he stumbles, throwing matchboxes around and throwing them away. He sways precariously on his back, leaning against candles that are lit and trying to make it across the room. In the dim light, the audience holds their breaths and screams in laughter.
La Cucina Dell’Arte builds from the tradition of master/servant in Commedia dell’arte, in which Danny and his brother David have the time they need to run through each show. In the pizzeria, they employ traditional clowning techniques in order to cook pizza for two spectators who find themselves in a relationship on stage.
The brothers maintain a pleasant harmony of friendship in their relationship that is hierarchical. While David is the one who runs the relationship, often taunting and demanding, he tries to avoid being too harsh or mean. The best part about the performance is Danny’s plate-spinning routine, which is remarkable in the length of time it keeps the audience fully engaged and generates constant squeals when every plate starts to fall apart.
It’s a shame, however, that the story is stretched out over 70 minutes, with certain scenes overstaying their welcome, as well as some interspersing between sets is a bit sloppy.
Yet, in a season that is so full of circus, the substantial commitment to tradition and the simplicity at the heart of La Cucina Dell’ Arte creates an interesting and enjoyable program. The show might not be as thrilling or as death-defying as its peers; however, it does bring to the audience two professional clowns and plenty of laughs.