September 22, 2014

The Two Gentlemen of Verona


There aren’t many Shakespearean plays where a can dog steal the show, in fact there’s only one: The Two Gentlemen of Verona. It’s one of the Bard’s lesser known works and it includes the infamous dog, Crab. In previous productions I’ve seen the dog played by a stuffed animal, but the Indiana Repertory Theatre’s current production has the real thing and the sweet pup holds the audience captivate every time she’s on stage.

As great as the canine performance is, it’s not the only highlight from the show. The IRT opens its 43rd season with a play in honor of Shakespeare’s 450th birthday. The show includes a cast of IRT vets like Ryan Artzberger and Robert Neal (who both starred in HART “The Tempest” this summer), along with some excellent newcomers. Two standouts were Charles Pasternak as Valentine, who vacillates between ardent lover and frustrated exile and Ashley Wickett as both Julia’s maid Lucetta and the sought-after Silvia.


The plot itself is not without its problems. Like much of Shakespeare’s more obscure work, this one doesn’t come together in the end in the way one might expect. But that’s one of the reason this show is such a valuable production. It’s rare to be able to see high-quality performances of Shakespeare that aren’t of a well-known play (Hamlet, Macbeth, etc.) Seeing a show like this gives audiences a chance to explore the repeating themes in Shakespeare’s plays and see how he executed them successfully or unsuccessfully. It’s even easier to appreciate Shakespeare’s body of work when you can see the ways he improved over time. 

Each of Shakespeare comedies have strands of tragedy woven into the plot. His ability to combine the two extremes is one of the many reasons he is still being celebrated 450 years after his birth. His themes of heartbreak, betrayal and particularly in this show, first love, are demonstrated so well that each actor has a meaty role to dive into. The scenes are played with such heart that we feel the characters’ pain along with them.
 

In addition to that, the show is funny and wonderfully entertaining. At the intermission I kept overhearing comments from people wondering why this show isn’t produced as frequently as other (the second act answered that question for them.) With so many great plays of Shakespeare’s to choose from, it’s easy to see why some theatres skip over the ones that aren’t as neatly tied up at the end. I’m so thrilled that the IRT decided to produce this one for the very first time and I hope audiences will get out and see it!
 
Don't Miss the Show
 
The Indiana Repertory Theatre is located at 140 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, one-half block west of the Circle Center Mall between northbound Illinois St. and southbound Capitol Ave. “The Game's Afoot" runs until October 19 on IRT's Main Stage. Times for performances can be found at www.irtlive.com or by calling the IRT box office at (317) 635-5252. To purchase tickets call (317) 635-5252 or order online at www.irtlive.com
Photos Courtesy of the Indiana Repertory Theatre

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