Machiavelli: the art of terror

A new play by Robert Cohen
(Formerly “The Prince”)

The play (under the title The Prince) premiered at the California Repertory Theatre in Long Beach and has since been professionally staged at the Pittsburgh Playhouse, the Hayworth Theatre in Los Angeles, the Madach Theatre in Budapest, and has been running since 2011 in the repertory of the Romanian National Theatre in Cluj, Romania.

An early version of the script (as “The Prince”) has been published in Plays International in England and in individual book form by the Dramatic Publishing Company in America, which holds the amateur performance rights for the English version. A Romanian individual book edition of the final version, with its current title, was published in October 2009.

The play takes place in the early 1500s, and centers on Machiavelli’s infatuation with terrorist-general (and Papal son) Cesare Borgia and his eventual emergence, after torture and betrayals, as a political essayist and rueful comic playwright.

Review Excerpts

From the Romanian production:

“Weak-hearted spectators may find it unbearable, but this show is absolutely fascinating! A dramatic text, with spectacular twists and sparkling situations and dialogue. It is powerful. Inconvenient. And the praises could continue.” Romanian Theatre Chronicle

From the 2006 Los Angeles production:

“A perversely funny morality play in which love and democracy triumph over brute force and political manipulations… Well acted, surprisingly lighthearted.” —Los Angeles Times

“A fascinating rumination on the seductiveness of power, playwright-director Robert Cohen’s historical drama follows the career of Niccolo Machiavelli. A layered, literate work… commenting on the frightening ease with which we shed our humanity [with] subtle portrayals of normal folk trapped by history’s horrors.” Rating: GO! —LAWeekly

“…revisits Niccolò Machiavelli with an eye toward accessibility and balancing history’s biases. [In] this intriguing study, Cohen addresses the challenges of dramatizing history through conversational dialogue with a decidedly current-day tone. The literate timeliness is fascinating.” Rating: RECOMMENDED! —Los Angeles Times

“The duplicity of Machiavelli’s accomplishments is explored …with unmistakable intelligence and an extra dollop of both the poetry and vulgarity of the era. This is a fascinating new play, subtly damning of our current political miasma and worthy of a future presented in larger and more affluent spaces.” —Backstage

” *****…proof that there’s still great theatre here in Southern California. Extremely accessible to general audiences, Machiavelli is an enjoyable, informative show that also serves as a cautionary tale for our time, [and] resonate[s] across five hundred years. A tight, tense piece of drama: Five stars out of five.” —Showfax

“Machiavelli’s seduction into power games by Cesare Borgia, followed by a grim comeuppance, fascinates.” –City Beat

“…a fine example of a time where the near Renaissance period had its art, power struggles and inquisitions” —Accessibly Live – Off Line.

photo from the 2011 Romanian Production

photo from the 2011 Romanian Production

From previous productions:

“Royally entertaining! An extraordinary play, dark, extremely literate, cogent, provocative, well crafted [and] extremely entertaining… Sparks of electricity fly through the air.” —Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram

“Run to your phone and get tickets to this outstanding world premiere… Thought provoking yet funny, political yet personal, timely yet timeless, Cohen’s script is funny, insightful, fast-paced and compelling. This is a play of words and ideas, and Cohen comes up with spell-binding combinations of both, managing to be ‘deep’ and wonderfully irreverent at once. A wonderful script…” —Beach Business Journal

“Cohen’s striking new play… is rich with historical significance and brilliant dialogue, [and] opens a fascinating chapter in political history that resonates through time… [with] some of the best dialogue to come down the pike.” —Grunion Gazette

“…delightfully witty and dramatic. This contrast between humor and eloquence makes this dark and insightful comedy hugely entertaining. [Cohen’] classic tale… meshes boundaries of the political tactics of the 1500s and the reality of politics today.” —On-Line Forty-Niner

“Cohen’s tight script is propelled by words: poignant words, beautiful in the way they describe utterly barbaric acts and their callous justification. The complex story is focused and powerful.” —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“An extraordinary production [of] one of the most interesting plays in today’s theatre repertoire. The main characters give… stunningly forceful performances… With extraordinary sensibility, the play makes Machiavelli’s transformation from slave to master of political machinations entirely believable, [forcing] the audience to think and contemplate. This captivating production will be impossible to forget.” —Relax-Szinhaz (Budapest production)

“… a compelling dramatization of Machiavelli’s political life… If you love politics and history and are a nut for psychology, do not miss this play.” —Orange County Register

“An insightful, probing, sometimes disturbing but always fascinating look into the life and transformations of a historical figure feared and loathed… The scenes play out as if one were witnessing history in the making. —Irvine World News

“A stirring and effective chronicle about Niccolo Macchiavelli… [whose] modern speech is as incongruous as the modern speech in “The Lion in Winter,” and equally effective. Theatrically exciting… grabs the stage and doesn’t let go…” —Los Angeles Times (Long Beach production)

“In Cohen’s play, Borgia is a dangerous charmer, bloody but sharp-witted and extremely funny, [who] leaps from the page in Cohen’s eventful, fast-moving script.” —Los Angeles Times (preview of Irvine production)

“Provocative drama with subtle humor… well-written and extremely entertaining… comedic genius… authentic feel… phenomenal directing.” —The New University (Irvine production).

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