Carlo Goldini’s comedy, THE SERVANT OF TWO MASTERS, presented by Emu Productions and Fool In Progress Theatre Company, features a sparkling translation by Edward J Dent.
The play’s main character, Truffaldino, is hungry. ALWAYS hungry (claiming his master never feeds him, he dreams of spaghetti). While working for one master, Federigo, he decides to double dip and work for a second master, Florindo, to satisfy his everlasting hunger.
Meanwhile lovers are betrothed, meet, fight and, more importantly, love. Where there is love, there is food and where there is food there is Truffaldino.
This production is performed with the traditional masks used in the Commedia dell’arte style and is a comedy of quick wits, secrets, cross-dressing, opened letters that shouldn’t be, excellent comic timing and mistaken identities .
Set designs by Emu Arts are bright and colourful – silk flowing banner drapes in yellow, blue and red, There are some steps and small raised platforms and square blocks of black and white tiles on the floor.
Character masks, some traditional and some not, are delicately, meticulously carved and detailed by Antonio Fava.
Costumes are eighteenth century – and ‘traditional’ Commedia dell’arte – Pantelone in red with his slippers , Brighella in white with black detail, the Doctor in black, elegant outflts for Silvio and Florindo, Clarice is in yellow, and Smeraldina in white with a green bodice.
The standout performance is by Ben-jamin Newham who gives an exciting, entrancing performance as Truffaldino, garbed in traditional, multi-coloured costume and soft red hat. Like Puck he is mischievous, meddling, amusing character.
The famous set-piece of the play, the scene in which the frantic, starving Truffaldino attempts to serve a banquet to the entourages of both his masters without either group becoming aware of the other, whilst desperately trying to satisfy his own hunger at the same time, is performed magnificently. Truffaldino gets hopelessly entangled in the web of lies he weaves but fortunately all ends happily.
The first couple features Silvio, elegantly and stiffly played by David D’Silva, and Calice, Pantelone’s daughter, was virtuously played by Ali Aitken. In one aspect, Clarice is strong and defiant – her love for Silvio.
The second pair of lovers features Florindo Aretusi, terrifically played by darkly handsome Daniel D’Amico, and Beatrice Rasponi, for most of the play in sumptuous disguise as her brother Federigo, was given a feisty performance by Marcella Franco.
Pantelone, Clarice’s father, was joyously played by Bianca Bonino. His friend, the Falstaff like, rotund Doctor Lombardi, was delightfully played by Mark Power. Pasqualino Arcuri revelled in playing innkeeper Brighella, he of the enormously bushy eyebrows and moustache.
Smeraldina, Clarice’s confidant and maid, (the Columbine figure if one is referring to Commedia), was warmly played by Gianna Di Genua. Her character doesn’t put up with any nonsense, and comments on the going ons with some quite pro-feminist speeches.
All in all, this show was much silly fun, exactly what one would expect from this classic Goldini comedy.
Running time 2 hours 40 minutes, including one interval
Carlo Goldini’s THE SERVANT OF TWO MASTERS, is playing the King Street Theatre, corner King Street and Bray Streets, Newtown, until 25th March.