First Slovene production
17 September 2016
Many plays by the famous Italian comedy playwright Carlo Goldoni have kept their lasting appeal and still appear remarkably contemporary and refreshing. His comedy The Lovers (1759) is much more than an entertaining adventure of a young couple, troubled by amorous hypersensitivity and fear of being ridiculed, which constantly obstructs their journey to a blissful union. It is a proper vivisection of highly neurotic interpersonal relationships, afflicted by indispensable, as well as dispensable, concerns. The young lovers’ relatives and friends, who are deeply troubled too, are entrusted to play the roles of psychotherapists attempting (in vain) to help the lovers open their eyes.
However, whims of character and a depiction of love, which is often manifested as its very opposite, as cruel toying with vulnerable emotions, is not the only theme of The Lovers. In his unobtrusive and subtle way, Goldoni presents middle-class characters who are desperately struggling to maintain their aspired lifestyle. They are obliged to give up their family silverware in order to get a better-quality meal. It is not surprising that keeping up appearances deprives them of their peace of mind and pushes them into a variety of neuroses. Admittedly, The Lovers is resolved by a happy ending in line with comedy conventions: a wedding does take place. Still, a contemporary reading of this clever comedy does leave us with a bitter aftertaste. The fictional world of The Lovers is uncannily similar to ours. Pushed to the edge of uncertainty we are prone to put on sell our inheritance from more prosperous times, and continue to live in fear of not being able to cope with what the future will inexorably bring us.
The staging of Goldoni’s The Lovers marks the celebrated Italian-Croatian director Paolo Magelli’s comeback in Drama after a twenty-year gap. Magelli is famous for enacting true theatre magic as well as for his indispensable socio-critical reflection.