Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Two Gentlemen of Verona

Sophie the Dog as Crab and Benjamin Curns as Launce inThe Two Gentlemen of Verona.
Photo by Michael Bailey.
I have seen two performances of The Two Gentlemen of Verona in recent weeks, along with a "speed through" and some rehearsals of Shakespeare's first known play. The shows have been well attended and quite pleasing to the crowds on hand. If you are a fan of Shakespeare's comedies, particularly the early ones, then this production should not be missed.

This production, directed by Ralph Alan Cohen, does a good job of keeping things light. Greg Phelps and ASC newcomer Grant Davis play the good friends Proteus and Valentine. Both actors do an outstanding job in their roles. They both have wonderful scenes with Alli Glenzer (Speed), who has several show stealing moments. Glenzer also works magic in tandem with Ben Curns (Launce) and his pooch sidekicks. This was easily Glenzer's strongest role of the year so far. When given the opportunity she never fails to deliver. She is definitely an all-star at the ASC. Curns, as always, brings his "A-game." He got to work with Tulip, a mixed Pit Bull who had some stage fright, and Jed, an obese black Lab who had the crowd ooing and ahhing and was a bit more comfortable on stage. Proteus and Valentine's love interests are played by Tracie Thomason (Julia) and Abbi Hawk (Silvia). Both actors do tremendous work in these roles. Thomason is especially funny sporting a codpiece late in the play as Sebastian and Hawk is impressive as the unrequiting and wronged Silvia. Speaking of codpieces, the master of the cod, "Codpiece" Chris Johnston is back rocking a garish, slightly erect yellow and red codpiece to match his foppish character Thurio. Johnston always excels in this type of role and he steals plenty of scenes in this production. It's always fun to see James Keegan as one of the outlaws, stealing something from an audience member (so far, I've seen him take M&Ms and mineral water). The "rape scene" is downplayed about as much as it can be, and that leaves people with little pause and keeps the light feel out there. The costumes for this show are also excellently done.

While the play itself is nothing to write home about, this production is fun and a great night out at the theatre.

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