Short Term Listings
BOOKS and CDs
LETTERS TO EDITOR
Writing for Us
A CurtainUp Berkshires Review
The Servant Of Two Masters
By Shirley Safran
The plot and characters are all stock commedia themes and types—irate fathers, thwarted lovers, delayed marriages, mistaken identities, disguises, and, of course, the clowns (Bring ‘em in!!) In this incarnation, the main tumult-maker is one Truffaldino, the eponymous servant propelled by manic energy as he tries to juggle (literally) serving two masters, one who’s in male drag, the other a pompous braggart dressed as a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The rest of the motley crew includes a Master of the Revels, the hysterical bride and her equally unhinged father, the local madam (channeling Marilyn as a brunette) and the pretty, perky lady’s maid. With this bunch of crazies, does the plot really matter? So let’s just dispense with it and get to the real action which involves breathless entrances and exits executed in double-time, pratfalls, loony non sequitur interjections, juggling everything in sight and much high-pitched squealing and screeching.
Let’s not forget, of course, the audience which is dragooned into participating in the mayhem. The kids love it!
You need not have any knowledge of theater history to realize that these assorted clowns are the progenitors of our most beloved modern comedians, from Chaplin, Keaton, the Three Stooges, the Marx Brothers, to Bill Irwin, whom Michael Burnet, the rubbery, gravity-defying Truffaldino resembles with a quality of sweetness which tempers his anarchic spirit.
While the frantic pace doesn’t always engender belly-laughs, the cast keeps trying to raise nuttiness to ever-dizzying heights. The most successful farceurs are the aforementioned Burnet and Catherine Taylor-Williams, playing her own dead brother in drag (Don’t ask!) But all the others seem to be having the time of their lives.
Part B (in this two-part performance) begins with a 15-minute recap of Part A, so if you can only make one performance, Part B would be the better choice. A condensed, single presentation would have sufficed. Best of all, it’s free of cost and it’s family friendly.
Editor's Note: For a review of a London production of this play go here. The nearby production of Hamlet mentioned above will be posted shortly.