By Bruce Dessau
Diminutive actor/comedian Roberto Benigni is best known here for his Oscar-
In his native Italy, however, he is also famed for his live performances entitled TuttoDante, in which he celebrates his country‚Äôs Shakespeare, Dante Alighieri. The show visited London last night for a brief stopover and his enchanting appearance in front of a largely partisan crowd made the Theatre Royal feel more like La Scala.
Before a recital from the Divine Comedy this charismatic clown displayed the idiosyncratic storytelling skills that have made him a superstar. In a mix of Italian and broken English he immediately won over a crowd by excitably explaining that he was "discombololated, frabbergasted, boohaha"‚Ä� his eccentric verbal gymnastics echoing his physical antics when he clambered over seats to accept his Academy Award in 1998.
A demonstration of his satirical streak came in a succession of crowd-
Even with the serious business of Dante, Benigni could not resist more gags, alluding
to biblical mother-
As for the notion of performing in English, he perfectly described it as being akin to "Mr Bean talking about John Milton in Italian".
By the time he came to the Divine Comedy‚Äôs Fifth Canto, proceedings had overrun but
no one was complaining. There was pin-
If there was a fault it was the title. TuttoDante means "everything about Dante". This was all about the man on stage.