The Two Gentlemen of Verona
HANDING out free ice-cream to audience members prior to curtain up is one way of attempting to get them onside – but it is only a start.
The Two Gentlemen Of Verona is known to be one of Shakespeare’s earliest plays, if not his very first. It brims with youthful energy and vigour, if lacking the later sophistication. It is the work of a young playwright bursting with ideas and the lines flow fast and furious.
That pace and energy is captured as young hearts run free in Simon Godwin’s modern dress production, but too often the speed and sharpness of the interplay outpace the cast resulting in mechanical matter-of-fact delivery.
This comedy has not been seen on the main RSC stage since 1981, and probably with good reason, the main one being in truth it really isn’t that funny.
There are comic moments, and none better here than Turio’s (Nicholas Gerard-Martin) song to Silvia (Sarah Macrae) as he whirls round the stage flowers in hand like a lovelorn Morrissey. It quite understandably brought the loudest laugh of the night – and came out of the blue after a pointless Latin song and dance routine in the opening half.
The two servants Martin Bassindale’s Jack-the-Lad Speed, and Roger Morlidge’s world-weary Launce, both shine, particular in each other’s company, unlike their for the most part drippy respective masters, Michael Marcus’ Valentine and Mark Arends’ Proteus.
Others impress – Pearl Chanda’s ball of energy Julia, and Leigh Quinn as her canny Scots servant Lucetta, and Jonny Glynn’s Mafioso boss-like Duke of Milan,
And of course there’s a dog, although quite why a real one here is a mystery, as it did little more than amble about on the end of a lead yawning.
For all it’s faults, this is a fun enough production which hurtles towards its predictable finale.
The Two Gentlemen of Verona runs until September 4.
Visit www.rsc.org.uk or call the box office on 0844 800 1110 for tickets and further details.