Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn

American Players Theater, "The Two Gentlemen of Verona"

It's rare for us to see a "new" Shakespeare play, so we looked forward to APT's new production of "The Two Gentlemen of Verona" with interest. (APT has done it before, 2002 or thereabouts, but for some reason we didn't get there then--.)

"Two Gentlemen" is one of Shakespeare's earlier comedies, and is performed less often than others. Why, was obvious, since the play is short on plot and action and long on the kind of wordplay that is the young playwright showing how clever he can be. There are large parts for the two clown servants, Speed (Will Mobley) and Launce (Steve Haggard)trying to out-wit one another; plus, the show pretty much requires a live dog, Crab (Tim), which "Shakespeare in Love" notwithstanding, you don't usually see in a Shakespeare play.

The plot deals with the aptly-named Proteus (Marcus Truchinski), one of the "gentlemen", who is sent from home to attend the Duke of Milan (James Pickering), just after declaring undying love for Julia (Susan Shunk). However, immediately upon arriving in Milan, he is smitten with the Duke's daughter, Sylvia (Abbey Seigworth), who is in love with Proteus' friend Valentine (Travis A. Knight). Proteus immediately begins to scheme to replace Valentine in Sylvia's affections, crassly abandoning his pledge to Julia.

How this crossing of lovers works out is the gist of the plot, heavily leavened with the aforementioned clowning, plus an attack by bandits outside Milan which provides an exciting fight scene.

The cast gave an engaged and lively presentation that we enjoyed very much, and made good use of a seemingly awkward set. One flaw was the costuming: I'm not sure if it was the result of an intention to appear "timeless" or just got its wardrobe from whatever would fit and wasn't in use elsewhere, but garments ranging from the 16th to the 19th centuries all appeared, sometimes all at the same time. But this is a quibble for theatrical pedants, like me.

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Tags: american players, theatre
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