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Theatre Review: The Servant of Two Masters

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, August 13, 2010
This play is grounded in the 18th Century Italian style known as commedia dell’arte – which means it’s decidedly cheeky satire, with pompous upper class characters who tend to mistreat their much smarter servants.
“Is that my check?”
“I’ll fix it at once, sir!”
“You low life! Is that how you take care of my things! You should be beaten repeatedly!”
“I’ll do it myself!’
Young actor Brent Randolph is beating himself with an actual slapstick.
“Ow, ow, ow…”

If this scene sounds a little like “The Three Stooges,” that’s because this show owes a debt to American vaudeville and silent film comedy.
But not all of the humor is physical. The script also bristles with rapid-fire jokes. Here a calculating salesman is trying to get an actress to sell his cure-all elixir from the stage.

“Want to make money?”
“No, I’m in the theater.”

That one-liner cuts two ways, since small theater companies  always live on the brink financially, even in the best of times. Frequent sound effects like that cowbell are another aspect of this show’s vaudeville heritage.

“The Servant of Two Masters” doesn’t feature intricate wordplay you need to prepare for in advance. It’s giddy, irreverent and geared toward bawdy gestures and belly laughs. The semi-professional cast of twelve is  dressed in stylish but not particularly expensive period costumes. And they get a workout in this high energy production. So if you’re looking for an outlandish outdoor show, this might be for you.

(Music out)

Main Street Theatre Works presents "The Servant of Two Masters" at the Kennedy Mine Amphitheater in Jackson through September 4th.
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