Hayfield Secondary School Two Gentlemen in VeronaBy Cappies • Apr 20th, 2011 • Category: Cappies
Hayfield Secondary School’s interpretation of the classic Two Gentlemen in Verona was delightful, with the witty charm and unconventional creativity that characterizes Shakespearean comedies. While considered to be the unconfident trial run of Shakespeare’s career, Two Gentlemen in Verona is a theatrical classic in its own right, setting up many themes that Shakespeare explored more in depth in his later works. Hayfield High School decisively took advantage of the play’s flexible structure in order to set the production in modern times within the University of Virginia.
The plot follows the efforts and follies of two young gentlemen, Proteus and Valentine, in the pursuit of love. Proteus, who had been dating the fair Julia, goes to Charlottesville to become a better man, only to become infatuated with Silvia, who has already given her heart to Proteus’s best friend Valentine. The bonds of Valentine and Proteus’s friendship are tested, and it is only after encountering a clown, a dog, an uptight chancellor, and an unruly band of outcasts do the friends and lovers make amends.
Hayfield set the scene in a very flexible and sparse set. Roman columns extended high in the upper middle of the stage, accentuating the many levels and steps throughout. There was no need for scene changes or blackouts, making the stream of action continuous. The combination of floor mikes and hanging mikes allowed every word of the Shakespearean dialogue to be clearly heard, but made other distracting noises audible as well. The actors were never just confined to the stage, and frequently walked throughout the aisles of the house, and even directly interacted with the audience. This made everyone feel more involved with the show and more keen to watch the plot unfold.
Carter Plemmons (Valentine) displayed some of the best characterization within the cast. His physicality was very fitting of his character and provided much of the play’s humor. Plemmons had a stage presence that was more commanding and engaging than any other actor, even when he wasn’t even one stage but on the house. Jesse Eftis (Proteus) utilized not only acting skills but his musical talent in his role. By converting a monologue into a love song Eftis added to the modern feel of the production without turning Shakespeare into a Lifetime movie. Jacob Brisson (Thurio) was a very amusing, and his haughty manner with sunglasses on head and lacrosse stick on hand made him a caricature of the jock stereotypes all high school students know so well.
Yvonne Fox (Speed) was very natural, and seemed to be the most comfortable with the Shakespearean dialogue. She was articulate in her projection, and very deliberate in her voice inflection and actions. Fox understood her dialogue, and decisively manipulated her inflection and physicality in order to intensify the meaning and humor of her character. Taryss Mandt (Lance) shone brightest among a cast of stars. Her comic timing and diction was impeccable, and her quirkiness made her sometimes steal the show, and when Mandt didn’t steal the show, her dog Marely (Crab) did. The pair made up the most hilarious duo of the entire play.
At times there was a level of upstaging by what was going on behind the principal actors, which unfortunately detracted from some of the most vital scenes.
Hayfield’s rendition of Two Gentlemen of Verona was fun and unusual, and did the classic play great justice.
by Lucy Stratton of Centreville High School
Photos by Jean Martelli
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