Mario Fratti: Still Going Strong at 85

By Martin Denton

This week saw the NYC premiere of two short plays by Mario Fratti at Theater for the New City: Three Sisters and a Priest and Suicide Club are being presented there on a double bill. (Read’s review by Ed Malin.)

So why is this production a bit more special than most? More…

Mario: The Playwright

Mario Fratti has elements of the new trend. Yes, his is a Pirandello of our time. But he has something else: a smoldering tension, he is a doctor of light, a prober of darkness. He has bored deep into the psychosis of the postwar life, making edges of our consciousness alive. His characters are alive with the necessity of demons and angels. – Owen Dodson, The Washingtonian

As a dramatist, Fratti eschews the obscure and the enigmatic. A principled advocate of directness and immediate communication in the theater, Fratti’s plays are governed by a fine and firm creative hand. – Stanley Richards, Best Short Plays of the World Theater

Almost all of Fratti’s plays begin with a bizarre dramatic situation. This he then develops and exploits in innumerable ways. But his purpose is always to lead us from the distortions of reality to a fuller understanding for it. Fratti is not afraid of facing reality and he believes that one of the chief functions of the theater is to provide a direct confrontation with it.- Robert W. Corrigan, Masterpieces of Italian Theater

His plays are strong, cogent and tightly knit. This, perhaps, explains Fratti’s particular gift of choosing a dramatic situation, keeping it alive with sharp dialogue, drawing unequivocal characters and driving to a point.- Richard L Coe, The Washington Post

Fratti is clearly a playwright to be reckoned with. His plays crackle with the sort of dialogue that marks him as a writer for the stage. – Emerson Beauchamp, The Evening Star, Washington

…Implacable revealing mirror images where Fratti confronts man with his scheming and greedy ways.- George L George, Backstage New York

Fratti is a real find among new European Dramatists. – George Freedley, Morning Telegraph

What They’re saying about…..

Three Sisters and a Priest / Suicide Club

Obama 44


The Cage….

  • Fratti’s The Cage is a tightly woven, well shaped play that builds constantly toward an overwhelming dramatic climax. It has everything that a good play should have. Good dialogue, good movement and an exciting plot with an unusual ending…Fratti is the Italian Tennessee Williams – John Accord, Oklahoma Times
  • The Italian Playwright Mario Fratti has written a powerful drama centered on a sensitive young man. The Cage is the kind of play that makes one aware of a playwright. Fratti’s talents are impressive. – L.C.B. New Zealand Journal

The Refrigerators…

  • The Refrigerators is a little perverse gem. The urbane hand of a master is mixing up the most ghoulish comic brew can recall since the days of Arsenic and Old Lace… This play is Billy Wilder movie material. A good creepy flick in the night isn’t easy to come by. – Arthur Sainer, The Village Voice
  • The events in The Refrigerators (Vallecorsi Award in Italy) are bawdy and outrageous, but Fratti skillfully keeps the merrily and distorted proceedings within shooting distance of what could be and probably is going on.. – Henry Hewes, Saturday Review


  • One of the true joys of the play is in the discovery of the subtleties the playwright offers: in fact, Fratti decided to try to write the play in such a way that it would transmit the presence of the famous Duse to theatergoers who had never seen her. This has been a formidable task for what living actress, no matter how talented, could reproduce the very special quality of the Duse? Fratti finally found a fascinating solution. – Henry Hewes, Saturday Review


  • Nine is a true original. It is a marvelous musical, shimmering with ideas both musical and theatrical,. – Clive Barnes, NY Post
  • Nine gleefully expands the limits of the theatre. It is a startling act of imagination, independence and daring and hence a show to treasure. – Dennis Cunningham, CBS-TV
  • Nine is a winner. Fascinating, Powerfully theatrical, warm funny daring, unique. Nine is magnificent. – Jay Sharbutt, Associated Press
  • NYTimes review of ‘NINE’
  • reviewed by Will Stackman for Aisle Say – Boston

The Seducers…

  • Fratti’s sense of humor is like the Italian confection “torrone”. It gives you something to chew on, while having marvelous goodies tucked away inside. The Seducers is a riot… – Sy Syna, The Soho Weekly News

Passionate Women…

Candida and Her Friends…