The Arden’s “Daedalus” reveals the funnier side of da Vinci

Elissa Vallano

The Arden Theatre Company’s production of “Daedalus” is simply wonderful to watch. Written by David Davalos and directed by Aaron Posner, “Daedalus” is a delightful comedy set at the turn of the 16th century, chronicling the brief period in Leonardo da Vinci’s life when he abandoned his identity as an artist.

During this time, da Vinci loses his patron and is forced to flee Milan. He then accepts Niccolo Machiavelli’s employment as a military engineer for Duke Cesare Borgia. Naturally, complications arise when da Vinci falls for a mysterious and beautiful woman who ends up being Lucrezia Borgia, Cesare’s sister. Vitellozzo Vitelli, a nobleman general, eventually turns against his overzealous leader, Borgio, bringing forth a dramatic wave of events that causes da Vinci to question his true purpose in life. To reveal the surprise at the end of Act One would ruin the fun, but I can say that the unexpected turn “Daedalus” takes leaves the audience rolling in the aisles with laughter.

Every aspect of the play was perfectly composed, and I was pleasantly surprised by the originality in writing and acting. Greg Wood’s animated and imaginative performance encourages the audience to see Leonardo da Vinci in a whole new light, as well as open our eyes to his genius as a Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, inventor and scientist. Scott Greer takes on three different roles throughout the play, including that of Lodovico Sforzo (a soon-to-be-ex-Duke of Milan), Baldassare Castiglione (a Mantua courtier-in-training) and, most importantly, his charmingly amusing role as Machiavelli.

My favorite performance in “Daedalus” was that of Peter Pryor, who played the power-hungry Duke Borgio with complete brilliance and comic wit. Buck Schirner perfectly rounds out the male performances as Vitellozzo Vitelli.

The females also turned out strong and impressive performances. Julie Czarnecki, who also plays three different roles in “Daedalus,” is an alumna of Villanova. She plays Lodovico’s mistress, the Marchesa of Mantua, and “Primavera.” Monica Koskey, who plays Lucrezia Borgio with dreamy wistfulness, is utterly enjoyable, while Grace Gonglewski’s surprise and secretive role brings absolute joy and amusement to the show. Each actor was nothing short of spectacular, and as a cast they work together flawlessly.

Despite the Arden Theatre’s small size, the crew managed to design a striking set, making good use of every possibility and resource. The direction by Posner was excellent, and the Davalos writing was inspiring. Although the play takes place over 500 years ago, modern themes are integrated and allow the audience to relate easily to each of the characters, and Davalos’ intelligent comic writing incorporates ideas about art, invention, identity, science, love, passion, politics and social responsibility. “Daedalus” is a witty work of complete genius. Guaranteed, you will get your money’s worth with this show and have a wonderful time from start to finish.