We saw Shakespeare’s Two Gentlemen of Verona performed by the Fiasco Theater at the Folger Shakespeare Library a few weeks ago. They used a minimum of actors, with everyone performing double duty. If I recall correctly, five actors – three men and two women – filled all the roles, with small costume additions and subtractions giving notice of the characters. They even played some live music on stage! However, I would be lying if I didn’t say that one more performer might have improved things.
There were a lot of young people. I think they were in high school. Now that I’m older, I actually cringe a bit when I see young folks at Shakespeare. It’s the prude in me, because until you see it on stage, you forget how many penis jokes Shakespeare includes in his comedies. Actually, I’m pretty sure that this one even had a joke about the a toothless woman having an advantage in terms of performing oral sex vis-à-vis her toothier rivals.
The ending is also problematic, because one of the leading ladies gets her total douchebag man. It’s not as bad as All’s Well That Ends Well, where even the king implies that maybe the heroine should have chosen to kick her chosen wretch to the curb, but it’s hard not to think that at least of the two couples who end Gentlemen will not have a particularly strong marriage.