Table-servers in trim aprons, pouring wine by the glass in
breezy bistros… that's the setting for director Charlie Fee's
production, which introduces Shakespeare's two young bucks as
well-heeled college guys with time on their hands, cash in their
pockets, and a preoccupation with romance. In fact, these guys
can't stop talking about women.
Valentine: "Now can I break my fast, dine, sup and sleep,
upon the very naked name of love!"
Naturally, they both regard their momentary sweethearts as
Valentine: "If not divine, yet let her be a principality,
sovereign to all the creatures on the earth."
Proteus: "Except my mistress."
Valentine: "Sweet, except not any."
These two guys sing the praises of their ladies
like a competition sport.
But then there is the clownish manservant Launce, who can't stop
complaining about his homely mutt, who follows him
Launce: "I think Crab, my dog, be the sourest natured dog
And right away, the dog steals the scene, with nothing more
than a pink tongue and a wagging tail.
Launce: "In all our house in a great perplexity yet did not
this cruel hearted cur shed a tear." (laughter)
Ah, the dog gets 'em, every time. But this comedy about
lovesick guys and a sad-eyed pooch soon turns serious, when one of
the gentlemen makes a play for the other fella's girl, and does
some dirty deeds to sink his erstwhile friend. A tragic outcome
looms, and it's only a last minute miracle that salvages a
nominally happy ending.
This problematic finale has long been regarded as a flaw in
Shakespeare's otherwise lighthearted, symmetrical script. But
director Charlie Fee takes a more measured view… after all, in
college, didn't you know a guy who made an ill-advised overture to
his roommate's girlfriend? Human nature hasn't really
This production asserts, with some success, that "Two
Gentlemen of Verona" is not only funny in the first half, but the
play also deserves some respect for the way it ends.