“A Servant Of Two Masters” by Carlo Goldoni
Nottingham Lace Market Theatre
Nottingham Lace Market Theatre
Most people will know the storyline from the play “One Man Two Guvnors”, the play that launched James Corden’s career on stage. This story is adapted from the original, and the story that "One Man" is taken from.
The play opens with the introduction of Beatrice, a woman who has travelled to Venice disguised as her dead brother in search of the man who killed him, Florindo, who is also her lover. Her brother forbade her to marry Florindo, and died defending his sister's honour.
Beatrice disguises herself as Federigo (her dead brother) so that he can collect dowry money from Pantalone, the father of Clarice, her brother's betrothed. She wants to use this money to help her lover escape, and to allow them to finally wed. But thinking that Beatrice's brother was dead, Clarice has fallen in love with another man, Silvio, and the two have become engaged. Interested in keeping up appearances,
Beatrice's servant, Truffaldino, is the central figure. He is always complaining of an empty stomach and when the opportunity presents itself to be servant to another master, Florindo, he sees the opportunity for an extra dinner.
As Truffaldino runs around Venice trying to fill the orders of two masters, he is almost found out several times. To further complicate matters, Beatrice and Florindo are staying in the same hotel, and are searching for each other.
And that is just half the story!
This is one of the craziest and fun plays I've had the pleasure of seeing and something very different for the Lace Market Theatre. There is a live quartet and clever insertion of popular music to reflect the situations in the play.
Konrad Skubis plays Truffaldino,and a new name to me. Played very different to the Francis Henshall character of "One Man" although there is still plenty of physical comedy in this show, and all done with a smile and a twinkle of the eye.
Jen White (Beatrice) makes the change from "she" to "he" with just a tucking in of a skirt and a permanent marker moustache. Completely unrecognisable! Great fun role to watch, and I'm sure to play.
Arnd Korn (Florindo) delivers yet again as the second of the two masters and brings quite a British sense of humour to the show's mayhem.
Roger Newman (Pantalone) brings a dollop of Cockney humour to this role,and we also get to hear him singing one of my favourite Chas 'n' Dave songs before the show.
Chris Collins (Silvio) also gets to air some vocals - I knew I'd get to hear him sing again - and also delivers another hidden skill, plate-spinning. How many hidden talents can one man have?
Glenda Plumari (Clarice) is superb at playing a spoilt brat who can't get what she wants, and at getting what she doesn't want, as in Federigo.
Natasha Szymanski (Smeraldina) and Alessia Molteni (Dr Lombardi) both turn in wonderfully fun performances, consistent with the rest of the very talented cast.
Rosie Wallace (Brighella) also gets to air her vocals in a zany version of a Eurythmics and Aretha Franklin song, along with the cast.
Directed by Jae and Neil Marriott, they have added the equivalent of pinches of spice to this script, and just a few spicy bits, if you keep your eyes open! The addition of the modern pop classics also add another layer of fun to the production. That and the use of the whole theatre and auditorium make sure that you have your eyes and ears open at all times, so as not to miss any entrances and exits. Some of the comedy sections are completely unexpected. Let me just say "pizza"!
Lighting Design is by Phil Anthony and Sound Design by Jack Harris. Both wonderfully executed to the maximum effect.
Jane Herring’s costume choices are inspired and immense fun. Go and see what I mean! The phrase "an explosion in a paint factory" comes to mind, but in a very good way.
Musical Director is Neil Marriott and also is part of the quartet providing the music along with Mark James, Arnd Korn and Gareth Morris. My tip is to get there early enough to hear the music selection that is performed before the show starts as this will get you in the mood for this euphoric piece of theatre. There's also face painting and balloon modelling and street artists to entertain you even before you take your seats.
Listening to the reaction from the vacating audience members, they all loved this show and were full of happy chat. They obviously had the same feelings about this brilliant play with music as I did.
If you are feeling just a bit down. This show will be your medicine and will instantly lift you out of the doldrums. And I can almost guarantee you singing "Buona Sera" for days afterwards, as I know I will.
“A Servant Of Two Masters” is at the Nottingham Lace market theatre until Saturday 29 February.