Thursday, July 24, 2014

'Two Gentlemen of Verona' by William Shakespeare

24 July 2014

On Tuesday we were at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon to see 'Two Gentlemen of Verona' – one of Shakespeare's earliest plays, and possibly his first comedy. It's not often performed (the last RSC performance on the main Stratford stage was 45 years ago) and you can see Shakespeare developing the technique that he would use to create later greater works. But Simon Godwin's Royal Shakespeare Company production is great fun and well worth seeing. It's fascinating to spot the prototypes for scenes in 'As You Like It', 'Twelfth Night', 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', 'The Winter's Tale' and other plays. And I enjoyed watching a Shakespeare play without knowing exactly where the plot was heading. 'Two Gentlemen of Verona' is a fairly bonkers romp and the RSC's swashbuckling production reminded me of the marvellous Not Man Apart production of 'Pericles Redux' we saw in Edinburgh some years ago (reviewed here in August 2008). The RSC cast were all impressive – with Roger Morlidge giving a great comic turn as the servant Launce. The RSC is very good at introducing wave after wave of stunning young actors. Michael Marcus, Mark Arends, Peal Chanda and Sarah Macrae, who played the four young lovers, were all excellent – and all four are in their RSC debut season. But the star of the show was undoubtedly the lurcher Mossup who played Launce's dog Crab. Mossup was clearly an experienced actor and it was good to see that she had her own biography in the programme (she has previously appeared in 'Legally Blond' (in Glasgow), 'Casualty' and 'The Tudors' on TV, and the film 'The Invisible Woman'!). I also enjoyed Nicholas Gerard-Martin channelling Morrisey in his desperate singing of 'Who is Silvia?'. 'Two Gentlemen of Verona' is a hoot.

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