‘King Stag’ brings fantasy to ULV stage
Posted Dec. 7, 2007
Rhiannon Mim
Tartaglia, played by junior Kris Bicknell, expresses his anger through an aside. His daughter, Clarice, played by junior Hailey Heisick, stands nearby in the performance of “The King Stag” in Dailey Theatre. Each actor made their own hand-made leather Italian masks, and the ULV theatre staff created the elaborate sets. Written by Italian playwright Carlo Gozzi in the 18th century, the production features comedy, love, murder and jealousy. The play will also run Friday and Saturday with a Sunday matinee.

The University of La Verne Theatre Department is hosting a comedic tale of magic, love, jealousy and revenge in “The King Stag.”

The performances will take place in Dailey Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m.

The play tells the story of a wizard’s spells given to a king, Deramo, who is searching for a bride, and the jealousy and deceit that follows.

The plot follows Tartaglia, a treacherous aide to the king, who desires Deramo’s true love and future queen, Angela, played by Seanette Garcia.

During the search for the new queen, Tartaglia attempts to cajole his daughter into proclaiming her false love for the king, but her lie is detected by the king’s first spell, which is a statue that comes to life when it perceives deception from a woman.

“It’s a rush, I love it so much,” Seanette Garcia said of performing onstage. “The people and the environment; it’s really relaxed and becomes a home away from home.”

Kris Bicknell, a junior theatre arts major, deftly plays the role of Tartaglia. His character is the source of much of the comedy within the play, as Tartaglia speaks with a stutter when he is disturbed or annoyed.

“‘The King Stag’ is very entertaining. The set and costumes are very well put together, too,” Whitney Brown, an audience member and a junior psychology major said.

The wizard’s second gift to the king is the ability to switch bodies. With a few words chanted over the dead body of a creature, man or beast, Deramo has the ability to take on the form of another, leaving his own lifeless figure behind.

Once his bride is chosen, King Deramo hosts a hunt for two stags, which are artfully played by dancers Donna Ibale and Natasha Velasco.

After a very dynamic hunting scene, the two stags lay dead.

The kind king, trusting their friendship, reveals the wizard’s spell to Tartaglia by leaving his own body and entering that of the dead stag.

Tartaglia, who covets the king’s bride and wants both throne and glory for himself, then faces the decision of whether to use the spell to enter the king’s body and fraudulently seize power.

“This was fun, broad and colorful. I come to the University theatre a few times a year,” audience member Janet Ober said.

“The King Stag” was written by Carlo Gozzi, an Italian playwright of the 18th century, who produced works of the commedia dell’arte tradition, which creates worlds of magic, humor and fantasy.

The ULV actors all wear brilliant masks, a customary feature of Venetian theatre works in Gozzi’s time.

“I was really impressed by the quality of work these university students produced,” attendee Franck De Girolami said.

The ULV theatre staff regularly creates their own elaborate sets, and those of this production feature brightly painted middle-eastern motifs.

“The King Stag” is a consistently funny and very well rehearsed production. The cast is tight, and the result is a performance not to be missed.

For more information on “The King Stag,” visit the department’s Web site at www.ulv.edu/theatre.

Giselle Campbell can be reached at gcampbell@ulv.edu.

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