The Epicentre Theatre Company current production of Italian playwright Carlo Goldoni’s ‘The Servant Of Two Masters’, as adapted by Nick Enright and Ron Blair, is great entertainment, and is in many circles seen as an Australian classic in its own right or as John Bell put it, a ‘commedia dell’Oz’.
There’s more than a bit of a Shakespearean feel to this comic romp of mistaken identity and love gone wrong with even the phrase- all’s well that ends well- raised towards the end of the play.
Confusion is the order of the day! The scenario sees Silvio want to marry Clarice who wants to marry Signor Frederigo who’s really Beatrice in disguise, who’s come to find her love Florindo. The whole sorry mess gets a whole lot worse when Florindo and Beatrice both, without knowing, hire the same servant- the useless and always hungry Truffaldino of Bergamo- who himself is in love with Clarice’s servant Smeraldina.
This is a fast paced night in the theatre with Enright and Blair, together with first time director Matt Cook, bringing a strong Australian feel to the production. Jessica Leafe is exceptional playing the male role of Truffaldino, who ends up serving both his masters, Florinda and Beatrice. Andrew Sheehan and Elizabeth Nicholls play Silvio and Clarice and make for an attractive couple. Mel Ashby is great as the disguised Beatrice. Oliver Clarke makes for a noble, elegant Florindo. Tim Hunter plays the gentlemanly Pantalone, and Katherine Cassidy is the vivacious, outgoing Brighella, showing off a strong opera voice. Jessica Whitfield impresses as the vivacious Smeraldina.
The highlight of the evening is a set-piece in which the starving Truffaldino tries to serve a banquet to the entourage of both his masters without either group becoming aware of the other, whilst desperately trying to satisfy his own hunger at the same time.
Prior to the show starting, Mark Apololony put together some lilting Italian acoustic guitar music to put the audience in a good mood for the night ahead. Matt Cook’s set design works well with the feature being a partition with a set of doors, painted in different colours, which the actors, through the play, race in and out of, in a typically farcical fashion. Cook sets the play in Kings Cross featuring the iconic Kings Cross Coco Cola sign together with some hip disco music giving the show a contemporary edge. Costume designer Dino Dimitriadis impresses with some flashy outfits for the cast.
A classic romp written in 1793, ‘The Servant Of Two Masters’ opened at the Zenith theatre, corner McIntosh and Railway streets, Chatswood, just one block from Chatswood railway station, on Saturday 4th June and runs until the evening of Saturday June 18, 2011.