The beginning of “King Stag” was a little confusing. The pre-show music had stopped, the “please enjoy the show” announcement was over and there was nobody on stage. And yet, nothing was happening.
The audience just sat there in silence. It felt like something had gone wrong, like the crew just wasn’t ready for the show to start. But then, fourth-year student Sarah Parr, who is also the director of business operations for The Observer, walked into the theater and started to address the audience directly. She explained that she was Cigolotti, the leader of a traveling acting troupe that was here to put on a show for us.
However, she quickly realized the show they planned to put on was not the show we bought tickets to see. We had all come expecting to see a performance of “King Stag,” and Cigolotti’s troupe was unprepared.
Cigolotti frantically apologized to us, but she was interrupted by the booming, disembodied voice of her master, Durantarte (played by second-year Adam Benjamin), who commanded her to get on with the ordeal.
Framing devices in theater such as this are refreshing, especially for seasoned audience members who are always begging for something new. This started the show off on a funny and frantic note, and the rest of the show kept up with it.
The production was also a visual masterpiece. Every costume was beautiful and the set design was a work of art. It truly felt like the theater had become a medieval kingdom in a magical, far-off land. It was a wonderful world to experience and be a part of.
The show centered on King Deramo, played by third-year Joseph Belfiore, and his journey to find a wife. He chooses Angela, played by second-year Savannah Walters. As odd of a premise as that sounds, the interactions between the two were sweet and endearing.
Standing in King Deramo’s way was Tartaglia, his prime minister, played by third-year Devin Knott. Tartaglia had weaseled his way into the good graces of King Deramo, but he constantly plans to betray him to seize more power. His scheming made up the main action of the play.
The on-stage dynamic between Belfiore and Knott was extremely enjoyable and the relationship between their characters that they built and destroyed over the course of the show was really moving.
In one scene, Tartaglia carried out his plan to become king by casting a spell to put his mind inside of Deramo’s body, so he could live out his days as the king, while Deramo’s mind was now in the body of a stag (hence, “King Stag”).
Seeing Belfiore act as Knott’s character inside of his character’s body was impressive. Belfiore played Tartaglia extremely well and really emulated the traits that Devin assigned to the character.
Later in the show, in an attempt to take back his throne, Deramo used the same spell to transfer his mind into the mind of Gregoria, an old woman played by third-year Cassandra Knaggs. So Knaggs also had to act as Belfiore’s character, and then, through a twist of fate, as Knott’s character as well.
Such performances take a great deal of talent and focus from an actor. It makes one wonder what the rehearsal process was like.