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A CurtainUp London Review
Two Gentlemen of Verona
by Lizzie Loveridge
Rachel Kavanaugh has set her Two Gentlemen in the prettiest confection of Regency clothes I have ever seen on London's stages. What the play lacks in content, it attempts to make up for in fashion. When Issy van Randwyck first makes her entrance as the rather mannered Silvia, the Milanese woman who captures the heart of both friends, she is dressed in a pink rosebud decorated farthingale, her blonde hair piled on her head, as pretty as a portrait by Thomas Gainsborough. Any red-blooded male would desire her and the rest would probably desire her frock.
There is the problem as Proteus (Nick Fletcher) falls for his friend Valentine's (Nicholas Burns) lover, betrays Julia (Phillipa Peak) to whom he only recently swore undying love and in the final scenes in the forest threatens Silvia with rape. What the audience have difficulty in accepting is not only Proteus' switch of affection but his switch back and his rapid forgiveness by Julia, Valentine and Silvia. Proteus of course is named after the shape shifter of Greek mythology. The four main lovers fail to convince but in this play the playwright has not made it easy for them.
However there are some good comic scenes featuring Ian Talbot as Launce and Josie Kavanaugh, the director's pet, as Crabbe, Launce's dog. In fact there are those who will tell you that the best thing about Two Gentlemen of Verona is the dog. Launce and Speed (John Hodkinson), another servant, have much punning but although they work hard, the word play is not as funny to modern audiences as it was four hundred years ago. The dog's scenes are splendid as his owner castigates this cute animal for being the "sourest natured dog" or having "no more pity in him than a dog".
The whole is set in the greenery of Regent's Park with many miniature houses poised on poles some of which light up through the windows for night time scenes.
Mendes at the Donmar
Peter Ackroyd's History of London: The Biography
Somewhere For Me, a Biography of Richard Rodgers
At This Theater
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam
The New York Times Book of Broadway: On the Aisle for the Unforgettable Plays of the Last Century
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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