Sunday, March 28, 2010

Two Scalawags of Verona

We were a tiny bit skeptical when we heard Seattle Shakespeare Company was going to set its production of The Two Gentlemen of Verona in modern California. But director Marcus Goodwin's idea really worked, and a marvelous cast of local favorites made Two Gents an entertaining evening of theater on my Sweetie, the official scorer's birthday.

Hana Lass, at right, threatens to kick
Samie Detzer's ass. Photo: Erik Stuhaug.
They didn't lean on the California thing too much, but did make nice use of cell phones and cameras with pictures projected on the back wall of the set. They were also able to mine for new jokes this way, coming up, for example, with a funny visual gag for when Proteus (Daniel Brockley) gives a ring to his love, Julia (Hana Lass). We won't give it away, but this physical quip probably wouldn't have made much sense to the Bard's audiences.

Chris Ensweiler and "Russ"
Photo: Erik Stuhaug.
Speaking of the marvelous cast, it starts with Lass, who, as regular readers (are there any?) of WSW know, kicks ass. She also looks great with a soul patch. Connor Toms (Valentine) is a fine young talent and he and Lass have recently announced their engagement. Toms, David Goldstein (Speed), Brockley, and Chris Ensweiler (Lance) have a great deal of fun with the comic scenes. Ensweiler is an especially gifted comic and a regular at Seattle Shakes, where we've recently see him as Truffaldino in The Servant of Two Masters (for which he received a Wisey nomination for Best Clown) and as Feste in Twelfth Night. Ensweiler's Lance was a stoner/surfer/DJ dude who also had the challenging task of having a dog as co-star; Russ was great as "Crab."

The Two Gentlemen of Verona can be a bit challenging because, in the end, Proteus and Valentine turn out to be a couple of first-rate schmucks. Thus, Goodwin breaks form and stays away from a lives-happily-ever-after ending. It was refreshing and a great punch line to a good show.

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