Dublin Theatre Festival

Teatrul Anton Pann

Decameron 646

Based on the novel Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio

Venue Tivoli Theatre

Directed by Silviu Purcarete

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In a country villa outside the city of Florence twelve young noble men and women who have escaped the plague decide to tell each other stories: vivid portraits of people from all stations of life, in which plots revel in a bewildering variety of human reactions. The tales encompass marital misunderstanding and thwarted passion, the simple joys of physical love as well as bawdily exhuberent tales of deception and hypocricy. The Decameron was written in the wake of The Black Death which had shaken Florentine merchant classes to the core.

Decameron 646 like his Cinderella (for Bucharest's Tandarica Puppet Theatre) is one of several individual productions directed by Silviu Purcarete at the invitation of permanent companies. In 1993, the theatre of Rimnicu, Vilcea invited Purcarete to work with a young company of recent graduated actors. Months later Decameron 645 was staged (the figure in the piece's title refers to the number of years since 1348 - the date of the Plague that inspired Boccaccio's stories and changes with each successive year). In keeping with some if Purcarete's work, the production was not uncontroversial on first showing, staged in traverse for only a small number of spectators on either side of the performance space, Decameron 646 is quite daring stylistically and in its use of tasteful innuendo and nudity. The production is regarded as a masterpiece; each story is acted in an engagingly simple, innocent and disingenuous style, linked by the narrator (played by Illie Gheorghe - a leading member of the National Theatre of Craiova and one of Romania's most respected actors). The setting makes maximum use of a painted floorcloth, a large and ancient chest, two opaque curtains at either end of the performance area and the phyical and comic skills of a cast of 13. The production has won several awards and one of its two performances at the 1993 Caragiale Festival as almost abandoned because triple the number of spectators occupied the stage, refusing to move unless more performances were arranged to meet the demand.

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