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The Two Gentlemen of Verona at The Little Theatre

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by Haydn Radford (subscribe)
Haydn Radford -A freelance writer born in Adelaide, who loves living here. I write about movies, theatre, entertainment, literary and art events. I am happy to promote & review your events.
Event: -
At Uni of Adelaide, The Cloisters
Two boys. Two girls. (One Dog). One big city. What could possibly go wrong?

The Two Gentlemen of Verona
Launce (Matt Houston) and Crab (Diesel) Photo courtesy of Richard Parkhill

Written by William Shakespeare between 1589 and 1593, the play The Two Gentlemen of Verona is sharp, creative and humorous as it explores the light and dark side of love and friendship, as two friends fall in love with the same girl, resulting in temptation, betrayal, desire and deceit.

First time directors for the Theatre Guild, Gary George and Angela Short, fell in love with the clever, comic dialogue. Later when they learned it was possibly the first play Shakespeare wrote they felt it was appropriate as first time directors that The Two Gentlemen of Verona be performed by the Theatre Guild for the first time.

Gary George said, "The play itself is unique as it seems to reflect Shakespeare trying out a lot of ideas he later uses repeatedly; like the comic servants and girls dressed as boys that are part of his more famous known plays. There is a lot of fun in it, and in some ways it is raw compared to his later plays, and it almost seems like a practice run for him."

The Two Gentlemen of Verona
The cast of Two Gentlemen of Verona. Photo courtesy of Richard Parkhill.

George said, "From the start, Angela and I knew we were going to need a young cast and a real mix of actors. One of Angela's ideas was to include two young guys in their gap year. We managed to get some young actors who have not acted before along with others with little experience of doing Shakespeare before and some old hands who have done lots of theatre or done lots of Shakespeare, so they could learn from each other. There is a lot of learning by doing, and this has paid off really well."

The Two Gentlemen of Verona
Mathew Chapman and Alex Antoniou - the two gentlemen of Verona. Photo courtesy of Richard Parkhill.

Considered by some, a highlight of the play is Launce, the clownish servant of Proteus, and his dog Crab, performed by Diesel, "In his debut performance, Diesel is one of the most professional actors I have worked with," chuckled Gary. "He never dropped character. In fact, he was in character from the day we met him. In other productions they used actors dressed as dogs or puppets, and used all sorts of tricks to get around the idea of using a real dog."

The Two Gentlemen of Verona
Diesel, Amelia Lee-Hammat, Ronan Banks and Guy Henderson. Photo courtesy of Richard Parkhill.

The often quoted words of W.C. Fields, "Never work with animals or children," did not deter Jan Farr, Diesel's Owner and now Business Manager, she says jokingly. "He just needed to be fairly chilled out, which he is. Jan who looks after backstage, front of house and lights said, "So far in rehearsals the sound and lights haven't bothered him at all."

It seems Diesel, a mainly Staffie/Corgi cross, already new Matt Houston, who plays Launce his owner, and they really get on well. "However, Diesel did grow up in the country," says Jan, "and there was always the fear he might mark his territory being a theatre stage with outside scenery. But, Diesel is a true professional, he hasn't surveyed the stage so far."

George said, "We believed the dog is quite important to the show, because the essential themes of the play are about friendship and loyalty, so bringing a dog into the mix is a perfect example of friendship between Crab and Launce. Their friendship and relationship is possibly the most true friendship in the whole play."

Using Shakespearean English, the play is set in present day Australia. Verona is a nice, prosperous country town where everything is safe, summer-like and pleasant, where nothing bad happens. Then the scene changes to Milan, which is like Sydney, where it is full of excitement, temptation and everything begins to go haywire. The final location is a forest which is very much like the forest in Midsummer Night's Dream where banished people exist; weird and strange things happen, and lies are exposed and truth is revealed and rejected.

The cast comprises of Alex Antoniou, Ronan Banks, Matthew Chapman, Nick Clippingdale, Sheridan Cox, Lindsay Dunn, Guy Henderson, Matt Houston, Madison Kirby, Amelia Lee-Hammat, Annie Matsouliadis, Bonnie McAllister, Amanda Moore, Alice Munton, Olivia Parker, Jack Robins, Timothy Tedmanson,
Kate van der Horst and Diesel the dog.

Designed by Michael Vo
Photography: Richard Parkhill.

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Why? The play is sharp, creative and humorous as it explores the light and dark side of love and friendship, as two friends fall in love with the same girl, resulting in temptation, betrayal, desire and deceit.
When: 7 May - 21 May 2016 at 7.30pm.
Phone: 8313 5999
Where: Little Theatre, The Cloisters (off Victoria Drive, gate 10), University of Adelaide
Cost: TICKETS $28 Full/$23 Concession. ONLINE (fee applies) or Tickets at the door subject to availability (cash only) Group Bookings 10 at concession rate.
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