Set in sixteenth-century Florence, the play blends songs and robust action in detailing the hilarious lengths to which the smitten Callimaco goes in winning the favors of Lucrezia, the beautiful young wife of the rich and aged lawyer, Nicia. Enlisting the aid of the artful trickster Ligurio, Callimaco is passed off as a doctor who has devised a magic potion which, he promises Nicia, will make the heretofore childless Lucrezia conceive. But the catch is that the first man who sleeps with her after she takes the potion will die. Lucrezia's gullible mother and a venal friar, Brother Timothy, are also persuaded to help overcome Lucrezia's scruples against bedding down with a man not her husband (and who needless to say, turns out to be Callimaco in disguise). The resulting twists and turns lead on to nonstop high spirits and hilarity until, in the end, everyone gets exactly what he hopes for and, quite possibly, deserves.
A long-run success at New York's Public Theater, this rollicking, fast-paced, sometimes bawdy and always hilarious translation brings new life to Machiavelli's classic comedy. "…the most stimulating theater in town…pure magic." —NY Times. "Anticlerical Satire/Political Satire—even in the very days of the dread Machiavelli himself—can rarely have had it so good, or been so naughtily enjoyable." —NY Post. "…a well-nigh perfect play…it is merry and will make you merry" —The New Yorker. "…howlingly funny…" —The Hollywood Reporter.