The Two Gentlemen of Verona
Shakespeare fans will know immediately that this "not too taxing" play is The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and that Shakespeare clearly wrote the part of Crab, the dog, intending for the animal to upstage Launce (Richard Ruiz) his master as part of their clown act.
But, Crab, whose name in the credits is Khloe Jezbera, is so well trained that she never calls attention to herself except when planned. And that, too, is upstaging, in a way.
(Though, Crab did run off-stage at one point so gleefully chasing after a human actor that I giggled to myself, "Exit, pursued by a dog.")
The dog may also be part of the show to distract audiences from the paper-thin story that is notable mostly for devices that Shakespeare would perfect in later plays. Proteus (Adam Kantor) and Valentine (Hubert Point-Du Jour) are students learning to be the two gentlemen of the play's title. They are each in love, Julia (Kristin Villanueva) for Proteus and Silvia (Britney Coleman) for Valentine. Leaving Julia in Verona to follow Valentine to Milan, Proteus falls head over heels in love with Silvia at first sight, causing at first bemusement and then consternation from Valentine. You see, Silvia has more than one suitor, but she is secretly betrothed to Valentine.
Julia, meanwhile, decides to pursue Proteus when he does not return to Verona quickly. She dresses as a man for safety while traveling alone and then as a convenient disguise when she finds that Proteus has forsaken her. Fortunately, it doesn't take much for everyone to realize that all's well that ends well.
Veteran Shakespearean director Mark Lamos sets the production in a fantasy version of Renaissance Italy, with a set by John Arnone that piles hillsides with buildings and costumes by Linda Cho that are of the period but also commenting on the period. Fitz Patton contributes lively original music to which Jeff Michael Rebudal sets what is credited as "movement" (but, it looks a lot like tightly choreographed dance to me). Mr. Lamos directs the cast (dog included) with both discipline and flair.
That self-same cast is young and appealing, and the secondary players mostly come from the Old Globe's graduate theatre program, which is housed at the University of San Diego. Local favorite Mark Pinter deserves a mention for scoring in his portrayal of Silvia's father, the Duke.
San Diego's dog days run into September, and so does this highly enjoyable show.
Nightly except Monday, through September 14, 2014, in the Lowell Davies Festival Theatre on the Old Globe campus, located in San Diego's Balboa Park at 1363 Old Globe Way. Tickets, beginning at $29, are available at the box office, by calling (619) 23-GLOBE [234-5623], or by visiting http://www.oldglobe.org.
The Old Globe presents The Two Gentlemen of Verona, by William Shakespeare. Directed by Mark Lamos with John Arnone (Scenic Design), Linda Cho (Costume Design), Stephen Strawbridge (Lighting Design), Acme Sound Partners (Sound Design), Fitz Patton (Original Music), Jeff Michael Rebudal (Movement), Mike Rossmy (Fight Director), David Huber (Voice and Text Coach), Tara Rubin Casting (Casting), and Bret Torbeck (Stage Manager).
The cast includes Britney Coleman (Silvia), Arthur Hanket (Antonio, Dancing Master, Outlaw 2), Adam Kantor (Proteus), Mark Pinter (Duke, Fencing Master), Hubert Point-Du Jour (Valentine), Rusty Ross (Speed), Richard Ruiz (Launce), and Kristin Villanueva (Julia). Joining them are Old Globe/USD M.F.A. Program actors Erin Elizabeth Adams (Lucetta), Lindsay Brill (Silvia's Page), Lowell Byers (Turio), Jamal Douglas (Servant to Antonio, Musician, Outlaw 3), Adam Gerber (Sir Eglamour), Kushtrim Hoxha (Panthino), Tyler Kent (Host), Robbie Simpson (Dancing Instructor to Silvia, Musician), and Patrick Zeller (Outlaw 1); and Ensemble members Meaghan Boeing, Charlotte Bydwell, Stephen Hu, Allison Layman, and Megan M. Storti. Khloe Jezbera joins the cast as Crab.