The Prince


Robert Cohen

Published by Dramatic Publishing

6 Male 2 Female

The time is 1502 to 1527

As the play opens we are at the famous first midnight meeting between Niccolò Machiavelli, the shy but brilliant first secretary to the Florentine republic - later to write the celebrated political essay, The Prince - and Duke Cesare Borgia, the illegitimate son of Pope Alexander VI

At the time, Cesare commands the papal army dominating the Italian countryside

Seeking to negotiate his city's safety, Niccolò falls under the sway of Cesare's mesmerizing power and unapologetic ruthlessness and is also captivated by Cesare's beautiful mistress, Dorotea Carrociolo

Returning to Florence, Niccolò resigns his official position and abandons his wife and friends to join Cesare in Rome, with plans to ally with the duke in the establishment of a new world order

It is not to be. On his arrival at the Vatican, Niccolò finds the pope assassinated, Cesare near death, and Dorotea in tragic despair

Worse, returning to Florence, he is seen as a traitor by the ruling Medicis and imprisoned and tortured

Finally rescued by his wife, Marietta, and best friend, Biagio, Machiavelli goes into exile, spending his remaining years writing comic plays and political tracts

His plays (which paved the way for the commedia dell'arte) make him famous throughout Italy, but his political tracts, considered scandalous, are suppressed, and his plan to regain political office (in which he enlists the help of Alessandro de Medici, Europe's first black ruler) are unsuccessful

Niccolò must rethink his famous question of whether it is better for a prince to be "loved or feared"

Nonetheless, it becomes clear by the end of the play that Machiavelli, although reviled for "telling the truth" about political cruelty and intrigue, has helped unify Italian culture through his essays and dramatic writings

"Cohen has created a perversely funny morality play in which love and democracy triumph over brute force and political manipulations" ~ Los Angeles Times

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