Seattle Shakespeare Company
March 18 – April 11, 2010
Love is like a drug; one experience can engulf your entire body and mind. It can make you numb from reality and embark on adventures that you never would have dreamt of enduring on your own. Love, according to William Shakespeare, can even make you dress like the opposite sex and betray your best friend. This is the message that was brought from the Seattle Shakespeare’s production of Two Gentlemen of Verona. The Seattle Shakespeare Company delivered this classic tale with such passion and comical energy that it was given an impressive standing ovation even before the final scene finished. [Right: Russ as Crab and Chris Ensweiler as Lance. Photo by Erik Stuhaug.]
Two Gentlemen of Verona, directed by Marcus Goodwin (author of House of Mirth, Howard’s End, Pride and Prejudice – Book-it Repertory Theatre), tells the story of two best friends, Valentine and Proteus (Connor Toms and Daniel Brockley), who travel abroad to Milan, Italy in hopes of gaining more life experience than continuing to live in their hometown, Verona. Valentine takes on this opportunity with enthusiasm, while Proteus is more obligated; not only because his father forces him to go, but because Proteus doesn’t want to leave his fair lady, Julia (Hana Lass), behind in Verona. It doesn’t take long for Proteus to find a new love interest in
What makes this production of Two Gentlemen of Verona so unique is Goodwin’s modern twist. For example, instead of letters, the characters pass their thoughts to-and-fro using cell phones and text messaging. The costumes consisted of 21st century fashion and the set (Jason Phillips), especially the arrangement of Julia’s bedroom with its shrine of Twilight posters, gave the show the chance to relate to the trends of the modern world. Also, it is important to note how the creative modernization affected Shakespeare’s characters themselves. For example, Proteus’s jester, Launce (Chris Ensweiler), was portrayed as a “stoner” who had deep, humorous conversations with his dog, Crab, and walked around with marijuana joints in his sling bag. Also, Silvia’s father, Antonio (Michael Patten), Duke of Milan is played as a powerful businessman of Milan, displaying his power, wealth and high status, but relating to the modern thought of what a potent, rich individual is today. By modernizing the set, but still using Shakespeare’s script and language, it helped the show relate to all audiences. Shakespeare can be a bit intimidating, but Goodwin’s creativity helped make it easily enjoyable for any audience member.
The production of Two Gentlemen of Verona expressed the extraordinary talents of the Seattle Shakespeare Company. The performance was magnificent; it is a show that must be bragged about to the entire theater scene of
Review by Darsha Squartsoff