By Claire DeMarco
It’s 1890 in Venice, Italy. Beatrice Rasponi (Wendy Parkulo), disguised as her deceased brother travels to Venice to confront Pantalone Dei Bisognosi (Johnny Patalano). Pantalone is the father of her brother’s intended bride, Clarice (Kat Bowman).
What’s the point of Beatrice’s subterfuge? Beatrice wants the dowry her late brother gave to Pantalone in order to live happily ever after with her love, Florindo Aretusi (Matt Henderson).
Clarice thinking that her betrothed is dead has fallen in love with Silvio (Cody Ickes), son of Dr. Lombardi (John Dolphin) who enthusiastically encourages this merger.
Truffaldino Battochio (Todd Foose) offers his services as a servant to two masters – Beatrice and Florindo as a means to collect twice the pay. Neither master knows about Truffaldino’s duplicity. Problems compound as both masters require him to coordinate separate feasts (at the same time) from the only innkeeper, Brighella (Deborah Geary). He is deliriously happy at thoughts of making double the money plus selecting and tasting the food (he loves to eat).
Note: Double dipping at its finest!
So many loose ends to sew up! Will Beatrice’s identify be revealed? Will Beatrice and Florindo find one another? How about Clarice and Silvio? Who is Smeraldina (Kelsey Rhea)? Does Truffaldino succeed in serving two masters?
Spolier Alert! I think we all know how this play ends. After all it is a comedy! But it’s hilarious to watch the machinations as they unfold.
Foose is superb as Truffaldino. He is funny, conniving and gymnastic as the always hungry, always looking for money servant. Much of his humor is reflected in his facial expressions. His asides and comments to the audience are delightful. All of his moves are further enhanced with excellent timing and execution.
Henderson portrays his character as a controlled, “better than thou” gentleman. His facial expressions and movements are spot on. He easily transitions from this characterization to an emotional man out of control in a funny scene when he discovers Beatrice’s whereabouts.
Parkulo portrays her deceased brother in an intelligent way, not overly masculine. She does not pretend to lower her voice or walk in a more manly way which would divert our attention from her portrayal.
Dolphin’s pompous Dr. Lombardi is reinforced as he occasionally decides to throw out phrases in Latin to highlight his intelligence. He shows Dr. Lombardi’s gentler, kinder side when his son is in distress and needs support.
The actors are great as is the production but it would have been even better served if the stage was larger and more conducive to the story.
Note: The original play by Carlo Goldoni was written in 1746. It is an example of an early form of professional theater called Commedia dell’arte that emphasizes the actors’ intentional insertion of their own dialogue instead of that written in the script.
“Servant of Two Masters” runs from July 14 to July 29 at the The Margaret Partee Performing Arts Center, 523 Lincoln Avenue, Bellevue, PA 15202. For tickets or additional information, click here.