The Servant of Two Masters Serves Up Laughter at Hedgerow
Hilarious chaos will abound on the Hedgerow Theatre stage when The Servant of Two Masters gets to work from May 26 to June 26 in director Aaron Cromie’s world premiere adaptation of the Carlo Goldoni classic farce.
Can a man serve two masters? Can Truffaldino eat enough food? In the end, all the couples are married, but God save us if we get there. Artistic Director Jared Reed, a Juilliard graduate with a degree in acting, plays Truffaldino, joined by members of the Hedgerow company who take it on the chin, the nose, the ear, and every place a shtick can land. They’re directed by Aaron Cromie, who helmed the critically acclaimed Or, this winter and has adapted the original Goldoni. He promises the show will include weddings, confusion about who’s who, and occasional food fights as Truffaldino strives to eat his way through each crisis that arises.
The title character is Truffaldino, a servant who has an insatiable appetite, so he is always hungry. Hoping to be able to double his daily food allotment, he takes a second job, giving him access to eat twice at each meal. He works for Beatrice, who arrives in Venice disguised as her brother Federigo, who lost his life defending her honor against her lover, Florindo. She hopes to thus be able to collect the dowry of her brother’s fiancee, Clarice, who has since fallen in love with another man, Silvio. In the meantime, Truffaldino gains employment with Florindo, and shuttles back and forth between assignments, given messages for the “boss,” although he’s never sure which one they’re for. The escalating effect of the misunderstandings lead to multiple comical complications before all is resolved. Italian playwright Goldoni (1707-1793) created a new form of comedy by taking the best elements of the improvised style of commedia dell’arte (literally comedy of the profession) and adding witty dialogue in longer, more complete stories. Commedia dell’arte was primarily short scenarios with stock characters, featuring love triangles, mistaken identities and disguises. It was the source of slapstick, with lots of physical comedy and an actual “slapstick” used to create a slapping sound.
Goldoni first wrote The Servant of Two Masters in 1746. His original version was based on improv, but he revised it to make more complex characters and had it printed in 1753. It retains, however, many of the traditional characteristics of its origin enhanced by clever wordplay; in other words, lots of physical comedy and ongoing silliness.