Saturday, January 24, 2009

Clowning around

A Vaudeville act and a theater troupe collided recently at the Center House Theatre in Seattle, and the result was the highly entertaining A Servant of Two Masters produced by Seattle Shakespeare Company.

As Weisenheimer is a theater fan and Shakespeare lover, it's something of a mystery why we haven't taken in any shows at SSC before, but we've programmed several into our plans this year, including The Turn of the Screw, which is running in rotation with Servant.

The show really belongs to Chris Ensweiler, who plays Truffaldino, the servant of the title. Ensweiler mixes Chaplain, Groucho, Schwartzenegger, and Keister (at least) into his madcap performance. We first see him in the goofy opening sequence, in which Master of Revels Shawn Belyea and his assistant Ben Burris -- also a hoot! -- make the rounds of introductions of some of the audience members, names and homes of some of whom made the script later on. Ensweiler is constantly climbing a huge ladder to go up and change the lightbulbs, which are mysteriously going out. He does it with a great deadpan, and absolutely the same every time. Wesley Rice also was hilarious as the "Curmudgeon of a certain age." And the trio of lovestruck women -- Kerry Ryan, Emily Chisholm, and Deborah Fialkow -- were all fantastic on the way to getting matched up with the right man in the end. (That's Fialkow as Beatrice as Rasponi and Ensweiler as Truffaldino in the John Ulman photo above.) Katjana Vadeboncoeur is a scream as the Mae Westish innkeeper.

The show is a lot of laughs with a good dose of local humor thrown in. If you're a fan of juggling, slapstick, cross dressing, mistaken identity, floozies, and doofuses, this is your show!

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