Two Gentlemen of Verona is a pastel, hipster worshipping, indie contemporary version of an already shallow classical piece full of misogyny befitting the era.
Walking into the Polonsky Shakespeare Center, one is guaranteed an almost perfect view, unless one of course is banished to the top balcony, and then in that case, you won’t see half the play anyway without dangling over the edge. Nevertheless, we move on. The FIASCO Theatre Company could have examined Shakespeare’s arguably more immature work, heavy laden with the classism and sexism of its time and turned it on its head by a subjective interpretation that battled the flimsy plotline and two dimensional characters. Instead, the audience is left with a overbearing dosage of sugar and nothing of substance.
A comedy, Two Gentlemen of Verona asks the “serious” questions of youth through tales of first love’s woe, and friendship betrayal with all the flirty whimsy of nothing being quite too serious. When performed by what looks like a cast in their forties, it becomes a farcical mid-life crisis with a heavy dose of melodrama and none of the tender compassion that adults view childish behavior spurred by first love’s thorny kiss. A piece of eye candy to be sure, with their pretty indie guitar playing and pastel costumes, this piece tries to modernize Shakespeare by turning it into another shallow RomCom.
Zachary Fine’s Valentine is stilted at times, but his stint as a dog pulls laughter with well timed grins and begging. Actors Paul Coffey and Andy Grotelueschen steal the show with their portrayals of all of the secondary characters. Thank goodness for without them, I fear myself and the audience would have continued to sit in the awkwardness created by the interactive group.
Alas, the set as beautiful as it was, could not be enjoyed from the upstairs or at any sort of angle other than directly in front of. So please, if you do make the trek to Brooklyn, do yourself a favor and don’t buy the cheap seats. As is with all shallow pretty things, they’re enjoyed, but you’re left none the wiser, nor the better.Two Gentlemen runs through May 24th.
Review By: Aziza Seven
Photos By: Sara Krulwich