THE VENETIAN TWINS Review – Piccolo Theatre Delivers Its Trademark Glorious Nonsense Once Again!

 

The minute we sat down in our seats in the tiny Piccolo Theatre, we knew we were, once again in for a delightful evening of theater.

 

The backdrop of the stage looked exactly like an impressionistic view of the street of our hotel when we vacationed in Florence. So before an actor set foot on the stage, we were in Italy. That’s the minimalist magic of Piccolo Theatre.  No surprise: we’ve never seen a bad performance at the Piccolo Theatre. Carlo Goldoni’s The Venetian Twins was no exception.

Not that I didn’t have my doubts. I was an English major and instantly recognized the preposterous plot of Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors, which even my Shakespeare professor pronounced as Bill’s worst play! I assure you that if any company but Piccolo Theatre was producing this play, I would have had great misgivings.

So, I did a little research and learned a few things:

It is possible that the author, Goldoni, read Shakespeare and even also possible that he saw the renowned interpreter of Shakespeare, David Garrick, perform the work in Paris.  But the real point here is the nature of the work.  Unlike modern plays where the script is fairly consistent from performance to performance, for both Goldoni and Shakespeare, the play morphed because the actors played to and, sort of, with the audience!  That’s the brilliance of the Piccolo Theatre style. There are so many modern, anachronistic voices, gestures, expressions and--oh! Those ridiculous sound effects!--added when you least expect them, that you laugh out of surprise. In one case, a character even sounded like Dan Ackroyd’s imitation of Richard Nixon.  It was a perfect commentary on the duplicity of his character, and, of course, hilarious!

The theater has open seating.  Do what you can to sit in the front row.  You may find yourself a part of the production.  I was a prop! I became a hat rack! That’s what happens when you go to an intimate theater (“Small Stage, Big Laughs”). Merriment breaks out!

 

THE VENETIAN TWINS ensemble cast worked together so well, they made the confusion, consternation and stupefaction absolute!  An ensemble cast does that. Everyone’s role is essential to the fabric of the work.

Bravo to the cast:

Caitlin Aase, Aly Grauer, Claire Hart, Max Hinders, Andy Huttel, Nicole Keating, David WM Kelch, Drew Mierzejewski, Kurt Proepper, Nathan Thompson, Sean Wesslund, Andy Koppelman, Quinn Leary, and Fiona Stephens Goldoni would have been thrilled and Shakespeare might have been a bit jealous!

 

Bravo to the creative team:

The impressionistic backdrop (Scenic Design, Sarah Lewis) was just the first step that walked us into the crazy, mixed-up world of THE VENETIAN TWINS.

The creative team lead by Tabbi Koller, Production Manager and Chris Chapin, Stage Manager did a sensational job of totally engaging us.

Joshua Allard’s costumes looked like one yard of every fabric in Good's Fabrics sewn together.  And those masks were otherworldly!

 

Ruth Hudson’s Lighting, Lee Moore’s props, and Aaron Quick’s Sound Design and Bethany Woodward’s Backstage Floor Management,  and Fight Director, Claire Yearman (great dueling!) round out the Creative Team Roster.

Oh, yeah. That zany plot: two sets of twins, each a master and servant, are wooing and losing out with the ladies they love.  How do they finally resolve their identity crises?  You don’t really want me to tell you, do you? THE VENETIAN TWINS runs until May 9at the Piccolo Theatre.  For information and tickets visit Piccolo's website.

To learn more about the The Piccolo, theater that almost wasn’t, visit Piccolo History

 

Photos: Robert Erving Potter III, REP3

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