The Most Difficult Plays – n°15.
The love for 3 oranges is above all a play that does not exist.
Well – it exists and it does not exist.
You don’t believe me?
Of course you do, you believe me.
So, it’s a play by Carlo Gozzi, an Italian author of the 18th century – yes – the 18th.
And it’s a play written for Italian actors – those in the very, very famous Commedia dell’ Arte.
So he didn’t write everything – he wrote a canvas, and we don’t have the “original” canvas anymore – and we’ll never have the words spoken by the actors on stage again.
So it exists – and it doesn’t exist at the same time.
It’s a horribly difficult work to play – because it takes a troop of excellent actors to succeed in making people laugh like that, in “almost” total improvisation.
I found very few English versions – and they don’t … well, I won’t share them.
Improvised comedy needs real artists, really full of joy, creativity and insolence at the same time – but not too much – it’s all about ‘it’s just right’ – and that’s where it’s really difficult.
With all this, you still don’t really know what it’s talking about, my play which is not a play but rather a canvas.
Well… the title is clear : falling in love with 3 oranges – frankly, you’re a bit old-fashioned if you find it unbelievable. In this day and age, it’s quite admitted – and it’s not your oranges that will bother you asking for castles and wonders.
So, perfectly, it’s a splendid love story between a man and 3 oranges. Literally.
Here is the plot: a king and his son – the prince. The prince is sad – really too sad. He has read nothing but tragedies in his life and he doesn’t know how to laugh anymore.
Here are the jesters who are trying to make him laugh: order of Mister Father, the King.
Nothing to do.
The prince is sad to death.
And the more we try to amuse him, the sadder he becomes.
He is going to graze the grave, the prince – and that’s very convenient for all those who only dream of giving him a funeral – first class, it’s understood: the Prime Minister and his niece will be perfect opponents – and obviously, for the picture to be complete, Gozzi will add the wicked fairy Fata Morgana to it.
And you know her – Morgana has neither heart nor pity. On the other hand her skirt is too long. I am sure that you, gentlemen, you never tried to go up a staircase with a too long skirt.
You will laugh, obviously, by seeing the worthy and terrifying fairy crashing lamentably in her skirts and in the steps.
The prince also laughed.
The first laugh of his life!
He was saved.
Not at all, what do you think? The insolent youngster laughing at the most terrible fairy in the world? Do you think it’s going to be all right? You’re joking of course.
Fata Morgana will take cruel revenge – the Prince will have no choice but to find these 3 oranges – and fall in love with them.
Here he goes in search of oranges to love – and … it’s a lot less heroic than Jason and his Golden Fleece, or the Golden Apple Quest of Hesperides.
No, our own Prince is a prince of comedy, to whom no epic adventures happen.
So he is here, with these oranges – you’ll tell me that it’s always better to fall in love with an orange than with a toad. When I think of the number of girls who’ve ended up kissing toads – this guy was incredibly lucky.
The trick will be to try and find out if there’s a princess behind – or in? – the orange.
It takes magic – there will be.
And here’s our prince with 3 orange princesses to love.
Naughty Fairy had it all planned, the situation is getting worse and worse – of course they are jealous like tigresses, oranges are orange girls.
Luckily for him, all’s well that ends well and really by chance, two of the three princesses are going to die – paf ! like that – and a happy end celebrated with joy from the heart at the cemetery – we’re not going to let the two poor girls get bored all alone in their barrels.
Here’s the canvas – okay, I embroidered the ending – but that’s the game of this kind of comedy –
It’s not written – it’s offered to the actors – and it’s a delight of life when the actors are incredible.
Featured Image : The Love of the Three Oranges – Paolo Emilio Landi Company -Italy.