Theater at Monmouth: Madcap version of Shakespeare’s ‘Two Gents’ is delightful

David A. Sargent, Special to the Sun Journal
Encore | Tuesday, July 17, 2012

“MONMOUTH — With delightful tongue-in-cheek twists, Theater at Monmouth is serving up a wonderfully madcap version of Shakespeare’s “Two Gentlemen of Verona.”

It is the 1950s at Tony’s Soda Shop and ice cream parlor in Verona, Maine, where friends Proteus and Valentine are caught up in the excitement of young love. Valentine is about to travel to Milan, Italy. Proteus is becoming entangled in the perplexities of women, particularly the lovely Julia.

“Two Gents” is a fast-paced comedy in which the characters, young and old, stumble through all kinds of foolishness in pursuit of love. From the sock hop atmosphere of the soda shop to the palace of the Duke of Milan, this production of “Two Gents” combines Shakespeare’s lines with suggestions of scenes and situations that bring to mind more modern entertainment.

The audience will catch many sight and sound reminders of Doris Day movies with her many bemused suiters, or flashes of TV characters from shows like “Laverne and Shirley” and “Happy Days.”

The incidental music from the 1950s is well chosen for that purpose.

“Two Gents” explores such themes as falling in love with your best friend’s girl, sneaking out a window from your father’s house to meet your true love, getting someone else to deliver your love notes and putting on a disguise to investigate what your boyfriend’s up to, only to find he’s up to no good.

In her first season at TAM, Catherine Weidner’s direction combines solid scholarship in the presentation of the Bard’s text with lots of hilarity in the show’s imaginative setting.”


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