Tuesday 29th November to Saturday 3rd December 2005

Friargate Theatre 

Charles Hutchinson in the The Yorkshire Evening Press wrote:

THE York Shakespeare Project will do all Will’s works in 20 years, broadly in chronological order of first performance.

I say broadly because, like a political party on its uppers, the exception to the rule came first. YSP began not unreasonably with the home banker of Richard III, rather than The Two Gentlemen Of Verona, a “loosener” in the manner of The Beatles’ debut hit, Love Me Do, reaching only number 17.

The good news is that just as Love Me Do had the ingredients, but the full Fab Four flavour was yet to flood out, so this applies equally to Two Gents, a B-side now given its moment.

Shakespeare plays games with two pairs of contrasting lovers. Proteus (Jon Adams) and Julia (Cecily Boys) are going through the tiff stage in Verona; Valentine (Ben Fogarty), meanwhile, has left for Milan to seek his fortune and instead finds Silvia (the pre-Raphaelite Sarah Fennell), and they are at the Let’s Get It On stage quicker than you can say Marvin Gaye.

Into the Shake-up come comic servants Speed (David Hartshorne) and Launce; upper-class twits (Chris Rawson’s lollipop-sucking Thurio, promised to Silvia by the pedantic old goat the Duke of Milan, Robin Sanger, the Patrick Stewart voice of York); and Crab, the dog, the only credited appearance by an animal (the more famous hotly-pursuing bear in The Winter’s Tale is not named).

In Ali Borthwick’s playful hands, Two Gents still has its two gents but the cross-gender party games stretch even to the male Crab being played by Lucy, a Jack Russell pup. Shakespeare knew before WC Fields that animals can upstage all around them, so he farms Launce plenty of lines about the mutt, but Jenny Carr’s Launce – one of the roles usually played by a man – is in no mood to be trumped by a canine anyway. Jenny’s West Country fool is a joy, and it must be hoped her school-teaching duties do not prevent further YSP engagements.

Shakespeare already had Julia disguising herself as Sebastian (in a second case of Boys will be boys after she played Mercutio in Romeo And Juliet this summer). Borthwick “sexes up” the piece by turning Lucetta into Mitchell Pollington’s hunky Lucett and transforming Panthino into Panthina, Fritha White’s bitchy siren in boots and short skirt.

What Borthwick adds, she also takes way in an excellent decision to have no scenery beyond humorous props. Played in the round, her uncluttered production is as boisterous as a child fuelled up with E numbers, except for Fogarty’s Valentine, who appears to be auditioning for Hamlet, but in a good way.


 

See also: The British Theatre Guide review by Peter Lathan.

 


Cast

Proteus Jon Adams
Valentine Ben Fogarty
Speed David Hartshorne
Julia Cecily Boys
Lucett Mitchell Pollington
Panthina Fritha White
Antonio Tony Sudbery
Launce Jenny Carr
Crab, a dog Lucy
Dog Warden Angela Johnson
Duke of Milan Robin Sanger
Thurio Chris Rawson
Silvia Sarah Fennell
Eglamour Alistair Carr
Host Helen Mitchell
Outlaws Alistair Carr, Helen Mitchell, Mitchell Pollington, Tony Sudbery, Fritha White

Backstage

Director Ali Borthwick
Producer Ray Baggaley
Publicity Ali Borthwick, Alan Lyons, the Cast
Props Val Parker
Lighting/Sound Neil Millar, Ben Walden
Costume Kate Gardner
Front of House Members of the Project