I had a blast at Montgomery College’s manic and hysterical production of Servant of Two Masters. Filled with humor, manic pacing, gorgeous costumes by Peter Zakutansky, a clever set by Elizabeth McFadden that looked like a piazza with The Great Canal whirling all about, effective lighting by Lynn Joslin that made everything look beautiful, and crystal clear sound by Neil McFadden, it was a perfect way to spend and afternoon, and it left me smiling for the entire week that followed. (Looking at my paycheck on the 8th day took the smile away, unfortunately! But it has returned now as I write this review!)
Here’s how the show is described on the Montgomery College website:
“Disguised lovers, tricky servants and well-meaning parents cross and double-cross one another along the canals of Venice in Carlo Goldoni’s slapstick filled, comic gem. The characters’ search for a happy ending depends entirely on the titular servant Truffaldino, who is constantly on the lookout for a decent meal. Truffaldino’s attempt to double his wages unravels with delicious mayhem in this joyous, 18th century lark.”
I couldn’t have said it any better because there was so much going on and several subplots unfolding all at the same time that you had to pay attention. And with this amazing cast – they made it very easy for me to follow the craziness that ensued. It was like a frenetic Marx Brothers movie mixed in with a memorable I Love Lucy episode, filled with characters we could all relate to.
And here is a synopsis.
And I cannot think of anybody else to direct this show than Matthew R. Wilson and Toby Mulford whose exceptional work at Faction of Fools has won Helen Hayes Awards and the admiration of the entire DC area theatre community. No one can direct Commedia dell’Arte productions like these two fabulous performers/directors can. And the use of masks, which some of the actors wear, and prevalent in Commedia dell’Arte productions, is seen in Servant of Two Masters. And these masks fit the characters’ personalities like a glove.
As described on the Factions of Fools site: “In our performances, actor training, international initiatives, and educational outreach, Commedia dell’Arte is theatre at its best: physical discipline, spontaneous imagination, collaborative energy, and joyous wonder.” And this describes so accurately what I saw on the stage when I attended the final performance of Servant of Two Masters on Sunday, April 26, 2015.
And what superb performances Matthew and Toby received from their high-energy and hard-working cast. Francisco Borja was outrageous as Truffaldino, a man working two jobs and trying to make sure that both masters don’t find out. His physical gestures and loveable personality contributed greatly to the enjoyment of the show.
Borja was joined by Geocel Batista (Smeraldina), James Haberkamp (Il Dottore), Rachel Johnson (Beatrice), Nicholas Larravide (Silvio), Julie Gozalo-Michaud (Clarice), Zachary Norris (Brighella), Ivan Carlo (Pantalone), Jacob Meile (Florindo), and a group of Porters: Sonia Carbajal, Karim Darwish, Wira Dwijati, Maryann Moses, and Briana Singletary.
I mention them all together because this Servant of Two Masters has one of the best ensembles I have ever seen on the stage. It was hard to believe that they were students still learning their craft. There was so much chemistry between them that I actually believed they were these characters. Bravo to each member of this incredibly talented ensemble. I look forward to seeing you in future productions.
After the performance I learned that Matthew Wilson is leaving the DC area and will be working at The University of Mississippi. I wish him and his wife Sarah well in their new home and positions. I want to thank him them both for all the joy they have brought me and theatergoers in our community.
Before he leaves, you will have another chance to see Matthew Wilson and Toby Mulford work together in Faction of Fools’ upcoming production of Thorton Wilder’s classic Our Town performing May 28 – June 21, 2015, at Gallaudet University Theatre Arts Department’s Elstad Auditorium at 800 Florida Ave NE, in Washington, DC. Purchase your tickets here.
Running Time: Two hours, plus one intermission.
Servant of Two Masters ended its run on Sunday, April 26, 2015 at Montgomery College -900 Hungerford Drive #110, in Rockville, MD. For information on their Summer Dinner Theatre productions of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Legally Blonde, go to their website.