From October 8 to 25, Theater for the New City will present the world premiere of "Wives," newly written by Mario Fratti, in a double-bill with his breakthrough play, "The Academy."
Taken together, the two plays illustrate the changing nature of the battle of the sexes between the postwar period and now.
The two-part evening is directed by actor/director Stephan Morrow, who plays the instructor of a school for gigolos in "The Academy."
In "The Academy," it's 1950 Venice and amid the postwar nihilism and defeat, a reactionary professor has organized an 'academy' to teach young Italian men how to seduce and exploit American women.
The six young gigolos who are his students are not the helpless loafers we know from Fellini's "I Vitelloni."
Rather, they are enterprising young men, most bearing names that were commonly given to babies of the period (Afro, Benito, Corso, Donato, Elio) in praise of Mussolini's regime.
All owe a curious debt to the Professor's wife, who oddly represents the postwar nation as reflected in the character of a woman.
"The Academy" was originally presented by Lucille Lortel at Theatre De Lys in 1963; in the cast were Ron Liebman and Jacqueline Brooks.
The play was published in "Masterpieces of the Modern Italian Theatre" and its success put Fratti on the map of the best European playwrights.
"Wives" the world premiere, was written recently and offers a contrasting view of American women.
Instead of being victimized by an opportunistic man, they are firmly in control.
Compared to "The Academy", "Wives" displays a definite power shift in the battle of the sexes.
Carlotta Brentan plays the man's divorced wife, Giulia Bisinella plays his new fiancee.