St. Mark’s Players Two Gentlemen of VeronaBy Courtney Ferguson • Oct 27th, 2010 • Category: Reviews
St. Mark’s Players
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Washington DC
Through November 6th
2:20 with one intermission
$20/$18 Student/Senior/$15 Child
Reviewed October 24th, 2010
The St. Mark’s Players have taken on what is known to be Shakespeare’s very first play, Two Gentlemen of Verona. Putting their own modern twist on Shakespeare, the Players have made the show relatable and engaging to modern audiences. From references to Lady Gaga and Britney Spears to the Darth Vader… as the host says in the beginning, “this is NOT yo mama’s Shakespeare!”
In going along with the Player’s modern twist on Shakespeare, the summary has been translated into modern vernacular so all of us groundlings can understand the storyline. Soooo here’s what happens right…
Sooooooooo basically, you got these two friends right, Proteus and Valentine. Soooo Valentine is like sooo not feeling Verona anymore and decides to travel to Milan to find something exciting to do. He wants Proteus to go with him, but Proteus has a mad crush on this girl named Julia and Valentine is like, “laaaame dude, falling in love is super lame, I’m leaving for Milan.” But Proteus ends up being the laaaaame one, ’cause when he gets to Milan he ends up falling in love with the Duke’s ( he’s like a president) daughter Sylvia…dumb. THEN Proteus’ father tells him “look man, get out of Verona, go have fun in Milan like Valentine, gain some life experiences ’cause right now you’re not doing anything with your life.” Leaving behind his woman he ventures off to Milan where he sees this fine young thang named Sylvia and falls in love with her… a major no no, you’re not supposed to fall in love with your friend’s girl. Anyway, Julia’s like “oh uh uh! I can’t live without my man this is unacceptable!” So she goes kinda crazy, dresses up like a dude and travels to Milan to claim her boo. When she gets there she sees that Proteus is tryin’ to get with Sylvia and is like “wtf!” But because she’s smart she keeps it low key and doesn’t tell anyone who she is and spies on what everyone else is doing. Soooo basically, they’re all like really messed up here and some crazy stuff happens in the end … so yea it’s like major drama.
As an ensemble, the cast was very energetic in bringing out all of the humor in the play. They took on the challenge of speaking Shakespeare. Although like most Shakespearean plays, the clarity was not always there, but was spoken beautifully by the entire cast. The decision to modernize the show was a good one, it kept the attention of the audience and eliminated the pressure of trying to understand Shakespeare’s language. Children in the audience were equally engaged in the show thanks to funky costuming and some ad-libbing and improv from the actors. Costumes were a mix between modern and Elizabethan style clothing. For instance, Proteus sported an Elizabethan doublet worn by men at the time as well as a pair of Chuck Taylor’s. The cast definitely found the humor within themselves using their low budget for the show as a means to humor the audience, as the host explains in the beginning, they only had $200.00 to do the show. Changes in location were announced by large cardboard signs and throughout the show, the host tried to round up her unruly actors from the side lines, yelling at them to “find the light!” and when the stage was empty she asked the audience “where are my actors!?” She raved bout their unprofessionalism, but all in good fun allowing the limited resources to not be a detriment to their work.
With such a large cast, it would not be fair to single anyone out, but Directors Rikki Howie and Temple Forston picked the right people for the job. For a fun, stress-free night of Shakespeare, St. Mark’s is the place to be. Also, the St. Marks Episcopal church is a beautiful venue and with significant historical value to the DC area.
It is believed that Two Gentlemen of Verona is one of Shakespeare’s first plays, so it’s fitting that it’s my first community theater direction project. I’ve always had a great love of Shakespeare, his text, his devices, and the way that his stories have shaped theater. So when Rikki and I started discussing the show, we decided to go back to the original attitude of Shakespeare; the idea of rag-tag players who had to appeal to the base poor in the pits, as well as the rich and powerful. From that, we created this production of “a traveling theater troupe” that wants to entertain, as well as show off their craft.
We chose to take the humor of Shakespeare’s text, then built on that humor for a modern audience, never forgetting that first and foremost Shakespeare wrote to entertain the masses and create an enjoyable theater experience. We asked the actors to truly play with the show, then guided them to shape the production as a whole. So in the end we created a show that is not your mama’s Shakespeare, but it’s most certainly the heart of original Shakespeare.
Putting together this show, with Rikki and Rick has been a truly amazing and blessed journey. I can’t thank them enough for their support, guidance and friendship. My thanks to St. Mark’s Players, my family, the actors, and also the audiences! I hope you have as much fun watching the show as we had putting it together. Please sit back, relax and have fun with our show!
Considered by some to be William Shakespeare’s first play, the Two Gentlemen of Verona was either written in 1590 or 1591. The comedy centered on the conflict between loyalty to friends versus submission to passion.
This play is often seen as the first tentative steps in some of the themes and topics with which he would later deal in more detail. For example, it is the first of his plays in which a heroine dressed as a boy. It has the smallest cast of any his plays.
Dennis John Lewis
- Narrator : Nikki Gerber
- Valentine: William Macleod
- Proteus: Richard Miller
- Speed/Musician/3rd Outlaw: Rafael Cuesta
- Julia: Rachel Watson
- Lucetta: Mary Ayala Bush
- Antonio/Panthino: Geoff Baskir
- Sylvia: Banafsheh Wallace
- Thurio/Eglamour: Luke Morris
- The Duchess: Heather Cipu
- 1st Outlaw: David Hoffman
- Attendant/2nd Outlaw: Barbara Omohundro
- Host: Nikki Gerber
- Directors: Rikki Howie and Temple Fortson
- Stage Manager: Rikki Howie
- Producer: Rick Hayes
- Assistant Producer: Tom Wickenden
- Sound Design: Soundman
- Lighting Design: Jerry M. Dale Jr.
- Lighting Board Technician: Jerry M. Dale Jr., Josh Kashinsky, Tom Wickenden
- Properties Design: Ivanna Alexander and Charmice Hardy
- Set Design: Rikki Howie and Temple Fortson
- Costume Design: Rose Hartmann
- Costume Construction: Rose Hartman, Rachel Moressey, Mary Ayala Bush
- Makeup Design: Paige Grayson
- Hair Design: Paige Grayson
- Box Office Manager: Beth Hall and Eliza Kashinsky
- House Managers: Rick Hayes, Tom Wickenden
- Refreshments: Richard Warfield
- Photographers: Chuck Devine
- Poster/Cover Art: Jennifer Reitz
Disclaimer: St. Mark’s Players provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/5752.
Courtney Ferguson is currently a student in the theatre arts program at Howard University pursuing a B.F.A in acting. Her plans are to go on to grad school to study Voice and Speech. Her credits include work on and off the stage, and she can be seen in the upcoming production of The Laramie Project with the Providence Players.