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Two Gentlemen Of Verona - RSC Theatre Review

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by Alison Brinkworth (subscribe)
Freelance journalist in Birmingham with a passion for the dynamic theatre, art, food and fashion scene in Britain's 'Second City'.
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It's a dog's life in this modern, frisky comedy
In showbusiness, there's advice about never working with animals or children. I can understand why when you see a dog overshadow every actor whenever he trots on stage.

Mossup, who plays Crab the dog, is adorable and just one of the light-hearted delights that adds a sense of frivolity to what is regarded as one of Shakespeare's weakest, early works.

The Two Gentlemen of Verona by the RSC

The Two Gentlemen of Verona is a shallow tale of fickle love that comes between the friendship of our two gents - Valentine and Proteus - as they head off to Milan and become besotted by the same woman.

Written at the start of the bard's prestigious career, this is when Shakespeare begins to dabble in comedy elements of cross-dressing shenanigans, star-crossed lovers and lovable fools. It isn't the most renowned of plays and this is the first time in 45 years that the play has been performed in full production on the Royal Shakespeare Theatre stage.

Despite that, director Simon Godwin, who is also associate director of the Royal Court, works well with what he has been given and livens this modern Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) production up with disco-ball nightclub scenes and sharp suits in Italy's fashion city.

The stage and cast is beautifully ornate and stylish, transporting everyone to an Italian piazza before the drama even begins with lucky members of the audience invited on to stage for ice creams.

Suitably stylish for Italy in The Two Gentlemen of Verona

The play is a little slow to get going but gets a welcome boost from its key comedy components of the two gentlemen's servants Speed and Launce, both played wonderfully chirpily by Martin Bassindale and Roger Morlidge respectively.

Launce has the added bonus of his four-legged companion Crab, who mesmerises with his little tricks and whimpers every time he is on stage.

Mossup steals the limelight as Crab the dog

Actress Pearl Chanda is also refreshingly lovestruck and then equally heartbroken as poor Julia, who gets a rough ride in this fluffy romantic comedy.

At only 2h 45mins and with its light, fun storyline its actually a good choice for the summer as it is a play that tourists and families with children will easily be able to enjoy and understand, especially if it is their first taste of Shakespeare and the RSC.

This play is a light friscati wine compared to the clarets of Shakespeare's more famous works, but sometimes that's just what you need in the summer sun.

Score: 7/10

Two Gentlemen of Verona

Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford upon Avon - July 12 - September 4

Newcastle Theatre Royal - October 7 - 11
Including an audio described performance on October 10 at 7.30pm and a captioned performance on October 9 at 7.30pm.

Along with performances in Stratford Upon Avon and Newcastle, The Two Gentlemen of Verona will also be broadcast live to cinemas on September 3.

Tickets cost from 5 for 16-25 year olds and from 16 for normal tickets. They are available by calling the box office on 08448 11 21 21 or through the RSC website or the Theatre Royal website.

Watch a video about a day in the life of dog Mossup in Two Gentlemen of Verona below:


Mark Arends - Proteus
Elliot Barnes-Worrell - Outlaw
Martin Bassindale - Speed
Pearl Chanda - Julia
Nicholas Gerard-Martin - Turio
Robert Gilbert - Outlaw
Jonny Glynn - The Duke of Milan
Molly Gromadzki - Host/Singer
Youssef Kerkour - Sir Eglamour
Sarah MacRae - Silvia
Michael Marcus - Valentine
Roger Morlidge - Launce
Mossup - Crab the Dog
Keith Osborn - Antonio
Leigh Quinn - Lucetta
Simon Yadoo - Panthino/Outlaw

Director - Simon Godwin
Designer - Paul Wills
Lighting - Bruno Poet
Music - Michael Bruce
Sound - Christopher Shutt
Movement - Jonathan Goddard

What they are saying on Twitter

Fiona Mountford @FionaLondonarts
Delightful times Upon Avon @TheRSC for Simon Godwin's lovely, summery production of The Two Gentlemen of Verona.

Wyfan @Wyfan2
The dog stole the show when Patrick Wymark starred as Launce in the RSC's Two Gentlemen of Verona.
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Why? Refreshing, modern comedy with style
When: Until October 11
Phone: 0844 800 1110
Where: Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford upon Avon, and Newcastle Theatre Royal
Cost: From 5
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