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Washington DC by Susan Berlin

The Two Gentlemen of Verona

Also see Susan's review of Little Murders

Two Gentlemen of Verona
Euan Morton and Adam Green,
with Oliver the dog

The Two Gentlemen of Verona is one of William Shakespeare's earliest plays and not as well plotted as his later comedies. However, director PJ Paparelli has brought it to life for Washington's Shakespeare Theatre Company by emphasizing the youth of its characters and the fact that the journey to maturity hasn't changed much over the centuries.

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 how—shortly after Proteus (Nick Dillenburg) swears eternal love to his girlfriend Julia (Miriam Silverman) in Verona—he 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 performances—Silverman stands out playing the first Shakespearean heroine to disguise herself as a man for the sake of love—but 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
The Two Gentlemen of Verona
January 17th - March 4th
By William Shakespeare
Verona:
Valentine, gentleman of Verona: Andrew Veenstra
Speed, his servant: Adam Green
Proteus, gentleman of Verona: Nick Dillenburg
Launce, his servant: Euan Morton
Crab, his dog: Oliver
Antonio, Proteus' father: Christopher McHale
Panthino, his servant: Stephen Patrick Martin
Julia, a lady of Verona: Miriam Silverman
Lucetta, her waiting-woman: Inga Ballard
Milan:
Duke of Milan: Brent Harris
Silvia, his daughter: Natalie Mitchell
Thurio, her fiancÚ: Gene Gillette
Eglamour, her former suitor: Todd Scofield
Mantua:
Outlaws: David Duffield, Chris Genebach, Jacob Perkins
Ensemble: Aayush Chandan, Jonathan W. Colby, Michael Gregory, Aaryn Kopp, Matthew McGee, Janel Miley, Jade Wheeler
Directed by PJ Paparelli
Harman Center for the Arts, Lansburgh Theatre
450 7th St. N.W.
Washington, DC
Ticket Information: 202-547-1122 or 877-487-8849 or www.shakespearetheatre.org


Photo: Scott Suchman


-- Susan Berlin


Also see the Current Theatre Season Calendar for D.C.



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