The Servant of Two Masters
comedy by Carlo Goldoni
July 5-7, additional performances on the 24th and 27th, 2013
If you’re the sort of person who thought Who Framed Roger Rabbit with its mix of ‘toons and real actors was pretty neat, then the Crossroads Repertory Theatre’s production of Carlo Goldoni’s The Servant of Two Masters is the thing for you. In the spirit of “commedia del arte” at the New Theatre on the ISU campus half the cast is in silly masks and everyone wears colorful costumes.
Things begin innocently enough with wedding plans. Masked, with a bulbous nose as Il Dottore, is the substantial Chuck Shutt. Masked with a bit more of a sharp beak is Pantalone, the diminutive Charles Adam. The two fathers are happily anticipating an upcoming marriage to unite their families.
The affianced are Il Dottore’s unmasked son Silvio, Sam Fain, and the equally unmasked Ashley Jean Wolfe as Clarice the daughter of Pantalone. The two are very much in love and more than ready for the bond. The masked Eddie Urish, plays Brighella the wily inn keeper, who’s looking forward to hosting the festivities.
All is well until a masked Brandon Wentz appears as Truffaldino. He’s the servant of the play’s title, but at the moment only the servant of one master, Signor Rasponi. There’s shocked confusion, as Clarice had been in a forced alliance with Rasponi that was ended only with reports of his death in a dual.
When Rasponi finally appears, it’s the cross dressing Carolyn Conover. She’s, Beatrice the slain Signor’s sister exercising a bit of early women’s liberation by borrowing her brother’s identity and male attire to travel and settle their estate. Pantalone says that he must keep his word that Clarice shall marry the Signor. A pall hangs over the lovers.
Next to arrive is Beatrice ’s real love Florindo, Graham Emmons. He’s on the run because he in fact did kill Signor Rasponi. Looking around for help Florindo hires Truffaldino and indeed the hapless fellow now is “the servant of two masters.”
Mishaps, haps, misplaced letters, coincidences, and minor catastrophes all occur. In one amazing scene poor Truffaldino with Brighella the inn keeper endeavor to feed mini banquets to both of masters at the same time. Soup arrives before and after the main dish. Main dishes are swapped back and forth. It’s quite a mess.
Eventually, everything is sorted out. Silvio and Clarice, and Beatrice and Florinda are to be married. Just for a bit extra, Truffaldino is to wed the feisty maid Smeraldina, Ariana Cohen and all dance to a tune played by the show’s accompanist, mandolin player Solly Burton.
The Crossroads Repertory Theatre’s production of The Servant of Two Masters had Sunday afternoon’s audience laughing in all the right spots with plenty of on and even off stage clowning and gags. Kudos go to Charles Adams as old Pantalone. When he took off his mask I was actually surprised to find a young man under the guise of the old geezer. Brandon Wentz was an energetic farceur as Truffaldino. Samantha Hayes was a charmer as the singing gondolier.
Imaginative set design is by Dana Harrell. Clair Hummel was responsible for the colorful and varied costumes. Overall direction is by the Theatre’s producing artistic director, Arthur Feinsod.
The Servant of Two Masters by Carlo Goldoni enters the repertory for two more performances: the 24th and 27th.