Entertainment Notes

Leonardo da Vinci, the toddler years

John Geddes February 4 2002
Entertainment Notes

Leonardo da Vinci, the toddler years

John Geddes February 4 2002

Leonardo da Vinci, the toddler years

Entertainment Notes

The real star of Maureen Hunter's new play Vinci never appears on stage: it's the Renaissance man Leonardo himself—or, in this case, the Renaissance toddler. Little is known about the early childhood of the artist and thinker. Hunter imagines his early years with his mother, a servant girl named Caterina, who nurtures the first signs of genius. Picking up after him, the doting single mom finds the toys her wunderkind invents--such as a sticksand-string flying machine suitable for a house cat. Imagine if he had had Lego. The engaging plot of Vinci--which premiered at Ottawa's National Arts Cen tre on Jan. 10 and moves to Winnipeg, Hunter's hometown, for a run at the Manitoba Theatre Centre (Feb. 7 to March 2)-is driven by the desire of the

rich family of the boy's father to take the amazing child away. The outcome is in evitable, since the notion that Leonardo might have been raised entirely in a hut by an impoverished maid isn't really plausi ble. But dramatic tension builds anyway over the conflicting tugs of love and some thing like destiny. (The marvellous set, which looks like one of those inventions Leonardo drew but never built, reinforces the sense that the characters are caught up in a machine carrying them toward their fates.) Hunter even suggests the power at play in Leonardo's life might be God's will. After all, we see the story from the perspective of the priest Bartolomeo, played with scene-stealing charm by Gor don Rand, whose link to Leonardo's tale is

literally miraculous.

John Geddes