15-21 Aug, 1500 (1600) @ C, Chambers Street
By Danielle Farrow
The performers of Greene Shoots Theatre are 17 and 18 year-old school seniors – before you think this might call for leniency in a review, be assured none is needed. This version of Goldoni’s comedy is a strong ensemble piece, rich in detail and very much in the commedia dell’ arte tradition of the original.
This is a tale of romance with a twist, plotting most nefarious, and highly amusing mistaken identity, the latter greatly helped by identical twin actors. The style is broad and zany (a term rooted in commedia), with lots of detailed physical sequences and character combinations wonderfully representative of commedia dell’ arte’s ‘lazzi’ (set interactions such as mimicry and chases). The actors are only slightly uneven in skill, but mostly well-cast, with everyone – whether in small or large roles – committing to the extremes of the style. All are used in some great chorus lazzi, vocally well-delivered as well as physically strong.
The direction is tight and well-choreographed, including the comedy violence which was more convincing than other stage combat seen so far this Fringe. Pace and style is light and quick, as befits the material, and costume (c. 1920s/’30s) attractively reflects relationships, including the clever pairing of masters and servants. The adaptation works very well, with a slight change of ending (made easy by twin actors) that is fitting in style and worked in nicely.
This production of The Venetian Twins is a fun, physical farce energetically performed and directed with delightful detail.