Went to see the delightful outdoor production of Two Gents in Withrow Park last night, Shakespeare in the Ruff’s adaptation of Two Gentlemen of Verona, the company’s inaugural season, which included a six-week youth apprenticeship program for secondary students, The Young Ruffians.
As an added treat, before Two Gents, the audience got to see the first performance of a short piece created by The Young Ruffians, inspired by their participation in the program. A hilarious and satirical look at a young classical theatre company, with a put-upon stage manager, self-involved actors and a plot to become the greatest Shakespeare company in the world. Best line: “Trees are nature’s balcony.” Nice work from the Ruffians!
Adapted by Andrew Joseph Richardson with Jonathan Seinen and Brendan McMurty-Howlett, and directed by company A.D. McMurty-Howlett (with Diane D’Aquila as Consulting Director), Two Gents is a tale of young – and sometimes fickle – love, youth coming of age, separation and betrayal. Set in 1880s Canada, the scenes shift from Verona, Ontario to Milan (pronounced “Millen”), Manitoba – with Sylvia’s Duke father revised to be her Duchess mother and winding down with a more socially savoury ending.
The outstanding company for this production includes David Patrick Flemming (Speed, Thurio & Don Antonio), Jesse Griffiths (Valentine), Adrian Morningstar (Proteus), Kaitlyn Riordan (Sylvia & Lucetta), Andrew Joseph Richardson (Launce & Sir Eglamour), Lesley Robertson (Julia) and Trudy Weiss (Duchess), with Launce’s dog played by the adorable Chocolate (with dog wrangler/mom Sarah Hayward), one of the five dogs on the company’s cast roster.
Stand-outs for me were Riordan’s lovely, strong and loyal Sylvia, a young woman torn between duty to her mother and her love of Valentine; Flemming’s irreverent, mercurial and wise-cracking servant Speed; Morningstar’s smooth, scheming and fickle romantic young noble Proteus; and Richardson’s sweet, goofy and dog-loving servant Launce.
I won’t give away the revised ending – you’ll have to go see it for yourself. I will say that all is not forgiven so easily and the rewritten text is from Shakespeare, including the lovely Sonnet #116.
You have two more chances to see Two Gents: tonight and tomorrow night at Withrow Park – 7:30 p.m. Admission is pay what you can, with $15 suggested. If you go tonight (Sat, Sept 1), get there early to see The Young Ruffians perform their final show at 7:00 p.m.
For more info on Two Gents and Shakespeare in the Ruff, please visit their website: http://www.shakespeareintheruff.com/