Tonight I had the pleasure of attending Dallas’ Shakespeare in the Park production of Two Gentlemen of Verona. It was opening night and not very well attended, although I expect Wednesdays aren’t generally the night people go to the theater. If I had to guess, I would say the attendance will pick up very quickly as the production was done well and was very entertaining. We took a picnic and very much enjoyed the production.
For those not familiar with this one of the Bard’s works, it is the story of love and how love can make you blind but also how love can give you mercy and forgiveness. The story follows two best friends, Proteus and Valentine, who have just graduated. One takes to traveling while the other stays in Verona because of his love. However, his father decides he should go into the world and join his friend in Milan. Unfortunately, when he reaches Milan he is struck with lust more than love by the beauty of the lady his best friend is secretly betrothed to.
The story evolves from there with treachery, perjury, and deceit as well as true love, compassion, repentance and forgiveness. Even with all of this heaviness of love, Two Gentlemen is not like Romeo and Juliet but much lighter and full of comedy. The script is ripe with soliloquies and monologues that make it all the better.
This Dallas production took a modern spin on the classic Shakespeare, a common practice in today’s theater world. Many times this modern interpretation can be very peculiar and distracting if not downright strange causing me to get more confused as to why the artistic choice was made rather than letting me enjoy the artistry that is Shakespeare’s writing. However, this production did a good job with the adaptation.
One of the modern additions was the music throughout used as soundtrack and storytelling. I loved these music choices, which added a whole new element to the production. One of the more memorable scenes was a rendition of My Sharona performed by the cast. Another memorable scene is a chase toward the end that echoed classic comedy chase scenes from movies and cartoons of the twentieth century.
One of the highest points of this production was the cast, and how each member of the cast understood and was able to convey their dialogue to the audience. For me Alex Organ who plays Proteus was the strongest and gave a very good performance. He was supported by other good performers. I think anyone who sees this will definitely walk away remembering the performance by Anthony Ramirez as Proteus’ uncle Launce with his trusty sidekick Bosco.
Overall, the production was very well done and well polished for opening night. I enjoyed it and so did my friends, who I attended with. We all agreed we would like to see it again.
Two Gentlemen of Verona runs Wednesday through Sunday until October 2, at the Samuell-Grand Amphitheatre in the Dallas park of the same name. Then the troupe moves to Addison where it will perform in Addison Circle Park beginning October 6, Wednesday through Sunday, until October 17. The production begins at 8 p.m. Admission for performances on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays in Dallas is a requested $10 donation but is otherwise free. Fridays and Saturdays and performances in Addison have a $10 ticket price. Tickets can be purchased on the Shakespeare Dallas website. Visit their website for more information about parking, food and beverages, seating, and entrance times.
Many places have similar productions during the summer and fall. Research your area to see if there is something nearby and go enjoy a night of Shakespeare. It is most definitely an adventure.