Penshurst resident Nicholas Richard will be playing the leading role in the upcoming world premiere of The Italian Comedy, a madcap production about a Venice fashion store owner named Placebo who plays matchmaker to two young lovers while hiding a fugitive in his store as a mannequin.
Nicholas is experienced in screen, theatre, puppetry, voice acting, improv, cabaret and stand-up comedy. From 2018 to 2022, he toured with Interactive Theatre International (ITI) as Manuel in Faulty Towers: The Original Dining Experience, and as Ricky and Ray in Confetti and Chaos. From 2012 to 2017, Nicholas provided the voice and puppetry for Hoot the Owl on the ABC Kids wrapper program Giggle and Hoot, and also toured during this period with their live shows.
Steven Hopley and Alexander Gibbs met as teenagers performing in youth theatre, and have spent the two decades since refashioning an ancient comedic artform into this latest new play. It's an all-guns-blazing comedy about a Venice fashion store owner who hides a political dissident as a mannequin, and it takes its inspiration from the Renaissance art form commedia dell'arte, a vibrant heavily-improvised form of comic street theatre sometimes referred to as Italian Comedy.
"We borrow some of the style and stock characters from commedia," said Hopley, who will also direct the piece, "but it was also an opportunity for us to work in traditions from English comedy and French farce, and of course The Marx Brothers of whom we're both massive fans."
The writers - both of whom have won awards for their own work - are hoping their debut as a writing duo will create something fresh and new from these old forms. "But most of all," said Hopley, "we want the audience to laugh and have fun. We need more of that at the moment."
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