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The Two Gentlemen of Verona

a Comedy
by William Shakespeare

COMPANY : The New American Shakespeare Tavern [WEBSITE]
VENUE : The New American Shakespeare Tavern [WEBSITE]
ID# 4906

SHOWING : May 12, 2016 - May 29, 2016



Join us for one of Shakespeare’s earliest and funniest plays. Watch and laugh as close friends Valentine and Proteus both pursue the Duke of Milan’s beautiful daughter, Sylvia. See how Crab, "the sourest-natured dog that lives", provides one of the first examples of the animal stealing the show. Don’t miss this rarely produced comedy.

Director Drew Reeves
Antonio/Outlaw/Ensemble Tony Brown
Launce/Ensemble Nicholas Faircloth
Pantino/Host/Ensemble Patrick Galletta
Silvia Sarah Halicks
Speed Andrew Houchins
Proteus Adam Daniel King
Julia Mandi Lee
Lucetta/Outlaw/Ensemble Rivka Levin
Outlaw/Ensemble/Crab Amanda Lindsey
Thurio/Ensemble Kevin Roost
Valentine Stephen Ruffin
Duke of Milan/Sir Eglamour Troy Willis
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Two Liberated Gentlewomen of Verona
by playgoer
Saturday, May 28, 2016
Drew Reeves has done a fabulous job of directing "The Two Gentlemen of Verona" at the Shakespeare Tavern. The show is filled with comic bits and comic situations that cannot all have come from the individual sensibilities of the talented cast. Mr. Reeves has given spark and drive to all the situations inherent in the plot, and has added an ending twist that is satisfying to the more feminist sensibilities of the present age. It’s the type of show that keeps a smile on your face from beginning to end.

Technical aspects (Mary Ruth Ralston’s lighting, Anné Carole Butler’s costumes, Rivka Levin’s music direction, Drew Reeves’ fight choreography) all contribute to the quality of the production. The performances keep the quality up for most of the running time (although the 90-minute first act does get a bit long). The flow of action is extremely smooth, but the first act could use some editing.

Songs extend the running time, and each act starts with a choral song. The sound is lovely, but the only song the action really calls for is "Who Is Silvia?," which is probably the weakest in execution. The opening number does little but set up the gender animosity that underlies the director’s conception of the show and highlights the female performances.

The females all score in this production. Amanda Lindsey is a riot as Crab, the dog. Rivka Levin has a funny bit as an outlaw in a fight sequence. Both also acquit themselves well in their other roles. Mandi Lee is all preposterous petulance as Julia, and Sarah Newby Halicks makes Silvia an indelible comic highlight of the show. Shakespeare’s words have been altered to match their hair colors, underlining their suitability to their respective roles in the world of this production.

The men don’t come off quite as well. Troy Willis and J. Tony Brown seem to be walking through their roles, not investing them with a great deal of energy. Stephen Ruffin, Patrick Galletta, and Kevin Roost don’t seem to have a native comic sensibility that would help them to sell all of their funny moments. On the other hand, Andrew Houchins is a marvel of comedic quirks as Speed, and Nicholas Faircloth fills the other comic servant role of Launce with sprightly humor. Adam King does a fine job in the central role of Proteus, whose character arc is problematic on paper, since he betrays both his friend Valentine and his beloved Julia in his pursuit of the beauteous Silvia. His combination of natural sweetness, deft comic timing, and self-doubting sincerity make his actions palatable.

The show really belongs to Drew Reeves. The direction is the star of the production, with the comic bits that punctuate the action all helping to move the plot or characterizations forward. Kudos to Mr. Reeves and to the females in the cast for making an unabashedly chauvinistic script work for a modern-day audience. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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