Editor/Publisher, Bina Sharif

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


THEATER                A scene from, "THE SERVANT OF TWO MASTERS"                  

At Pollonsky Shakespeare Center, 262 Ashland Pl till Dec 4, 2016

By Bina Sharif

Carlo Goldoni's 18th-Century farce "The Servant of Two Masters" which is produced by Theater For
a New Audience is extremely festive.  The play begins in darkness. Two men descend upon the stage with flashlights and discover some masks in a trunk lying in the middle of a warehouse or a desolate performance space and immediately after that the whole proscenium lights up with stars all over the skyscape which is then replaced by a deep blue sky studded with clouds. I just loved the stage design.

From the very beginning the style of the play,  commedia dell' arte which is improvisational in nature and involves the audience in an intimate manner is established and the whole house is in stiches.

The title charcter of the play, Truffaldino (Steven Epp) who gets into trouble and creates great confusion for every one else comes from a poor background and decides to enlist for two jobs, two masters.  First is Beatrice (Liz Wisan) who is in male disguise and has arrived in Venice pretending that she is her brother who had been killed in a duel. Her brother was engaged to the daughter of a merchant in Venice named Pantalone (Allen Gilmore).  Clarice (Adina verson)  is actually in love with another man, Silvio (Eugene Ma) and Beatrice's arrival puts Clarice in an un-happy situation
till Florindo (Orlando Pabotoy) Beatrice's lover also arives in Venice.

Smeraldina, the maid (Emily Young) falls in love with Truffaldino creating a bit more complexity
in a hectic houshold.  Emily Young turns out to be a very capable actress who has slightly different
style of performance which fits in the show nevertheless.

Every one in town had believed that Beatrice's brother was killed in a duel but he was actually killed by Florindo whose arrival excites Truffaldino to take advantage of the situation and serve the second master as well anticipating double salary. The plot is somewhat confusing but if there is no confusion then there is no commedia dell' arte.  The fun of this kind of theater is all the turns and twists which leads to a happy ending justifying a true comedy.

The production directed by Christpher Bayes is hillarious and frantic in an enticing way.
The show belongs to Steven Epp who is just amazingly equipped to be a buffoon and forever ready and willing to ad-lib without an ounce of hesitation and deliver most of the very contemorary jokes, (Many about the current election) and the audience is just ready for it.  The laughter is just non stop.
After a gruelling election people can't digest anything else but humor and Steven Epp provides that.
He is a very funny actor to say the least. Another wonderful performance is given by Allen Gilmore
in the role of Pantalone.  Most of the cast does a decent job.

The play has been adapted by Constance Congdon, translated by Christina Sibul.
The play is further adapted by Christopher Bayes and Steven Epp.

Since the play has many jokes about the election it becomes a source of innocent fun, escape and relief for the theater goers who might have been trying to shun the reality. Timing of the play is perfect.
Do not miss this delightful show.
Cell; 212-260-6207

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