Piccolo Theater’s Servant of Two Masters
On Sunday, I got a chance to celebrate the end of Commedia month with the 3 pm performance of Piccolo Theatre’s A Servant of Two Masters at the Evanston Art Depot in Evanston, IL. The theatre is housed in a working train depot, and it was quite an interesting place. You can read the full history of the depot on their website. http://www.artsdepot.us/artsdepot/history.html
First off, the production was excellent, and if you are in the area, I can highly recommend it.
(DISCLOSURE: I was given free tickets to review the production, but I promise this review has not been influenced by the free aspect of the tickets)
For the most part, the performers were really great. Like with any company, there were highs and lows. The main characters (Pantalone, Dottore, and of course Truffaldino) were really superb at the physical comedy, the mask work, and the character work. In this play, Trufaldino is a work horse, as he’s in 3/4 of the scenes, and the actor performed marvelously. While not an acrobat, he really got to the heart of Truffaldino, and the quick physical movements, the flights of fancy, and the schemes. He was a delight to watch.
As well, Dottore was nicely pompous, and Pantalone had some great moments of lust and avarice. The young lovers were played with a lot of fun, and for the most part the other actors performed admirably. There was one actor who seemed a little bit wooden– but hey, he was competent.
One of the things that’s really hard about performing commedia and clown theatre well is getting down the right rhythm without seeming like you are beating it out. This production (esp. considering it was only in its third performance) really had a good sense of rhythm, and played with the intimacy (just 60 seats) and the in-your-face-ness of commedia (we see most of the music being made, and when performers aren’t on stage, they are watching.
The masks were made by Antonio Fava specifically for this production.
The only quibble I had is that the play starts out with Pantalone welcoming everyone, and getting the cast to sing a song to the audience, but they drop this entire subplot, and we never see this part of Pantalone again. Still, not so bad to have one minor quibble for a three hour production.
You can read the Piccolo Blog and see photos and videos of some of the actors in action, telling you how they do and think about their work.
And visit the Piccolo Theatre site to purchase tickets and find out more about the company.