‘The Servant of Two Masters’ at Annapolis Shakespeare Company

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There is nothing more enjoyable than a pleasant summer evening, unless, you happen to be at Annapolis Shakespeare Company’s ‘Comedy in the Courtyard’ at Reynold’s Tavern.  The patio behind Reynold’s Tavern is a wonderful location to take in a drink (or two), dine on some of Annapolis’ finest eats and take in the madcap, drama-filled spectacle that is The Servant of Two Masters. For a play written originally in Italian and premiered in 1753(262 years ago!), Carlo Goldini’s play holds up well for modern audiences. This new adaptation by Timothy Mooney is relevant, rhyming and raucous. Mooney’s modern word usage and clever innuendos allow everyone to laugh at the jokes. With duels, drama and duplicity Timothy Mooney’s adaptation of Carol Goldini’s The Servant of Two Masters plays as a purposely over-the-top telenovela. And this amazing cast will make you laugh…a lot!

Amy Pastoor (Smeraldina) and Patrick Truhler (Truffaldino). Photo by Joshua McKerrow.
Amy Pastoor (Smeraldina) and Patrick Truhler (Truffaldino). Photo by Joshua McKerrow.

Director Sally Boyett makes wonderful use of Reynold’s Tavern’s outdoor patio. The play is staged as theater in the round, but the action is not confined to the nominally assigned stage area.  If there is an empty seat at your table, one shouldn’t be surprised to find an actor occupying it at some point during the show.  If you are afraid of an actor sitting in your lap, don’t sit in the front row. During one scene that is particularly inspired and entertaining, Truffaldino (Patrick Truhler) recites a list of foods to be served at dinner. Very cleverly, these foods are indeed on the menu at Reynold’s Tavern. I highly recommend the bread pudding.

Pantalone Dei Bisognosi (Brian Keith MacDonald), a wealthy Venetian merchant, upon learning of the death of his daughter’s fiancé has hastily arranged a new, seemingly more advantageous match. Shortly after Pantalone’s daughter, Clarice (Megan Morse Jans) and Silvio (Michael Windsor) exchange their betrothal vows, their bliss is suddenly interrupted by the arrival Federigo Rasponi (wahn wahn waaahn).  Every time Federigo Rasponi’s name is mentioned, all action is disrupted by the stinger from the theme from The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. The characters appear to be more and more perturbed by this as the action progresses.

However, Federigo’s sister, Beatrice Rasponi (Laura Rocklyn), in disguise, has come to collect the dowry from Pantalone and also to find her lover, Florindo Aretusi (James Carpenter). Florindo (whose name also merits a sound effect every time his name is mentioned) fled from his and Beatrice’s hometown of Turin after killing Beatrice’s brother, Federigo Rasponi in a duel. While Beatrice is attempting to extract money from Pantalone and actively trying to avoid being forced into marriage with Clarice, her servant Truffaldino,  is up to all sorts of mischief.

Truffaldino feels that his master, who he believes to Federigo Rasponi, has treated him and his ever hungry belly badly. In order to try and double his earning and his eatings, Truffaldino agrees to be servant to another gentleman. That man happens to be Florindo Aretusi. As one can imagine, this leads to increasing larger mix-ups and misunderstandings. Come witness for yourself the fun and festivities at Reynold’s Tavern in Annapolis.

One of the most entertaining aspects of the show was the use of sound effects by Sound Designer Sally Boyett. Provided by actors both on and offstage, the use of noise makers also helps cover some of the ambient noises that naturally occur out of doors. During one particularly memorable scene, Smeraldina (Amy Pastoor) was interrupted by an airplane. Quickly thinking, Amy Pastoor held up her finger in the “one second” gesture as though she were too angry or at a loss for words until the plane had safely passed and then continued ripping into Truffaldino. The actor calm and collection prescience in the face of an uncertain environment was a joy to witness. After all, who doesn’t get a bit of a guilty pleasure from watching someone improvise in the face of the unexpected?

Costume selections by Costume Supervisor, Jackie Coelstock, are both crisp and look of a sufficiently bygone era. They also allow for the characters to move freely, which is critical for their jumping and running about. Amy Pastoor is the Resident Fight Choreographer who also plays Smeraldina. Her fight scenes are entertaining and free-range. Don’t let your feet stray into the stage area!

Megan Morse Jans (Clarice), Brian Keith MacDonald (Pantalone), Amy Pastoor (Smeraldina), and Michael Windsor (Silvio). Photo by Joshua McKerrow.
Megan Morse Jans (Clarice), Brian Keith MacDonald (Pantalone), Amy Pastoor (Smeraldina), and Michael Windsor (Silvio). Photo by Joshua McKerrow.

There can be no more entertaining way to spend a Tuesday evening than at Annapolis Shakespeare Company’s ‘Comedy in the Courtyard’ and their hilarious The Servant of Two Masters at Reynold’s Tavern.

Running Time: Approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes, with two intermissions.

The Servant of Two Masters plays on Tuesday evenings through September 29, 2015 as part of Annapolis Shakespeare Company’s ‘Comedy in The Courtyard’ at Reynolds Tavern— 7 Church Circle, in Annapolis, MD. For tickets, call (410) 415-3513, or purchase them online.

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