Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
The Two Gentlemen of Verona
Also see Susan's review of Little Murders
The director's ingenious blending of Renaissance and modern elements calls to mind another genre-blending work: the musical Spring Awakening, with its 1890s adolescents baring their souls in rock songs.
Paparelli sees the main characters as indulged teenagers who haven't had the opportunity to consider the consequences of their actions. This explains howshortly after Proteus (Nick Dillenburg) swears eternal love to his girlfriend Julia (Miriam Silverman) in Veronahe falls hard for Silvia (Natalie Mitchell), daughter of the Duke of Milan (Brent Harris), upon his arrival in that city. Making matters even touchier, Proteus' lifelong friend Valentine (Andrew Veenstra) is already in love with Silvia, but Proteus has no problem with a little betrayal to achieve his goal.
The romantic leads give solidly involving performancesSilverman stands out playing the first Shakespearean heroine to disguise herself as a man for the sake of lovebut Euan Morton and Adam Green sparkle as the comic servants Launce and Speed. Morton performs several scenes opposite a dog (Crab, played by Oliver), and the play of emotions across the actor's face as he attempts to connect with the dog is a delight to watch. Meanwhile, Green never loses his sweetness, even in the midst of slapstick stunts.
Walt Spangler's shiny metallic set grounds the characters in the contemporary milieu (Valentine is set upon by knife-wielding outlaws in what appears to be a highway underpass), while Paul Spadone's costumes add anachronistic touches to everyday clothes and wrap the women in luscious gowns. One warning: Paparelli introduces the scenes with colloquial supertitles, a flourish that may take a little getting used to.
Shakespeare Theatre Company