THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA
by William Shakespeare edition and additional lyric by Dominic Power.
Tobacco Factory Theatre Raleigh Road BS3 1TF To 4 May.
Mon-Wed; Sat 7.30pm Thu, Fri 8pm Mat Sat and 18, 25 Apr 2.30pm.
then Tour to 15 June 2013.
Runs 2hr 50min One interval.
TICKETS 0117 902 0344.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 10 April.
Two faces bad; two legs good; four legs best.
An early play, Two Gentleman might stand revealed in its comparative limitations at the ever-truthful hand of director Andrew Hilton, with his refusal to gild-over shortcomings in theatrical elaboration. Yet, while it hasn’t the theatrical verve of some productions, Hilton’s Tobacco Factory show increasingly pays-off in showing the tragic possibilities of a young persons’ comedy.
Young Proteus is sent travelling by his father, meets Sylvia and pursues her, giving up first love Julia and betraying his best friend Valentine, Sylvia’s lover. It’s a situation crammed with ideas developed in later plays – Twelfth Night’s Viola echoes heart-sick Julia, following Proteus in male disguise and watching him chase someone else, while Hilton’s handling of the end looks to Measure for Measure, with an over-confident male proposal not necessarily receiving the expected response – it seems natural the two young woman depart in sisterly solidarity.
And it’s moving for the audience, because Hilton and his cast always play the truth of the situation to find the comedy, as in the way Julia tears-up a love-letter for show, then scrabbles on the floor piecing it together, fearful the wind might blow fragments away. A tender, sympathetic kiss becomes a deep embrace comical in its passionate surge.
Though there are pure comic moments even late on – Alan Coveney’s Eglamour trying tactfully to recover his clothing after being caught by outlaws – and a song ends it all, there’s a gradual shift towards seriousness. Matters start with sunny music, dancing and singing waiters, but darken physically as the plot thickens and Peter Wehner’s plausible, smooth Proteus is contrasted by the Valentine of Jack Bannell, an innocent abroad and a naïve lover who can’t pick-up the most overt signal.
Deception that undermines friendship is contrasted by a loyalty lying deeper than surface grumbling among simpler characters. Rarely can the servant Launce’s tirades against his dog Crab have been so integral to his life as with Chris Donnelly’s expostulations about embarrassing canine behaviour. There again, there can have been few Crabs to match Lollio, pliant but determined, bearing imprecations patiently but knowing just how to milk an exit.
Proteus: Peter Wehner.
Valentine: Jack Bannell.
Speed: Marc Geoffrey.
Launce: Chris Donnelly.
Julia: Dorothea Myer-Bennett.
Lucetta: Nicky Goldie.
Antonio/3rd Outlaw: David Plimmer.
Pantino/2nd Outlaw: Thomas Frere.
Silvia: Lisa Kay.
Lord Turio: Paul Currier.
Duke of Milan: Peter Clifford.
Ursula/1st Outlaw: Eva Tausig.
Eglamour: Alan Coveney.
Director: Andrew Hilton.
Designer: Harriet de Winton.
Lighting: Matthew Graham.
Composer: John Telfer.
Assistant director: Nicholas Finegan.
7-11 May 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2pm Dukes Theatre Lancaster (The Round) 01624 598500 www.dukes-lancaster.org
14-16 May 7.45pm Mat Thu & Sat 2pm Everyman Theatre Cheltenham 01242 572573 www.everymantheatre.org.uk
28 May-1 June 7.30pm Stephen Joseph Theatre (The Round) Scarborough 01723 370541 www.sjt.uk.com
4-8 June 7.30pm Mat Thu 1.30pm; Sat 2.30pm Audio-described Sat 2.30pm (+ Touch Tour 1pm); BSL Signed Fri Northcott Theatre Exeter 01392 493493 www.exeternorthcott.co.uk
11-15 June 8pm Mat Thu 1.30pm; Sat 2.30pm Theatre Royal Winchester 01962 840440 www.theatreroyalwinchester.co.uk