The play chronicles the life of the original "Renaissance Man," Benvenuto Cellini, the sixteenth-century Italian sculptor and man-about-town. Cellini's masterwork is the magnificent Perseus, the creation of which is the play's centerpiece. As he works, he dictates his memoirs, letting us into his life: We learn of his days in Paris and Rome, and of his beloved Florence; we also get a glimpse of the artist's bravado—he snubbed the patronage of Pope Paolo and was promptly thrown in jail; we're given accounts of his love life; and we're also teased about a couple of juicy murders. The play closes with the unveiling of the Perseus and leaves the audience touched by Cellini's genius.
Adapted from the Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini, translated by J. Addington Symonds. "[Shanley] has created a convincing Cellini, not neglecting his dark side, and a trim, vigorous, fast-moving show." —BackStage. "Very entertaining…With brave purpose, the narrative undermines chronology before untangling it…touching and funny…" —NY Times. "The play glorifies the struggle of the artist to expand the limits of his artistry, to risk personal immolation in the pursuit of creative achievement." —Variety