Mandragola | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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It's no surprise that this debut production by Apex Theatre Company, headed by three recent Northwestern grads, is decidedly collegiate: broad, stagy, earnest, audience friendly. It is surprising that they believed Machiavelli's dutiful, intermittently funny 1518 comedy--about a Florentine lech's scheme to dupe a married woman into a quick fuck--would be a strong entree into a glutted theater market. Machiavelli was merely competent as a playwright; La Lena, by fellow Italian Renaissance comic writer Ariosto, is a far superior work with a similar plot. Director Josh Penzell tries to compensate by injecting original songs and loads of slapstick. But his eager performers sport the vaudevillian style he imposes on them like ill-fitting suits, and their unceasing efforts to amuse are ultimately exhausting. --Justin Hayford

a Through 7/22: Thu-Sat 7 PM, Sun 3 PM, Theatre Building Chicago, 1225 W. Belmont, 773-327-5252, $20.

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