Nearly 50 years ago the newly formed Royal Lyceum Company opened its doors with Victor Carinâ€™s Scottish version of a classic Goldoni play – â€œThe Servant oâ€™ Twa Maistersâ€œ – a play updated yet again in recent years as the smash hit â€œ One Man, Two Guvnorsâ€. Tony Cownieâ€™s re-write of Goldoniâ€˜s â€œThe Venetian Twinsâ€ could possibly echo this, with one murder, one suicide, and a jolly happy ending, for that just about sums up the knock-about humour of this timeless play.
These twins have been around a long time – since 1745 in fact when Carlo Goldoni, the master of Italian theatre, wrote the play while working in Venice. Fast forward a few centuries, and the play has enjoyed a steady success down the years, leading to Cownieâ€™s latest home grown interpretation for the Lyceum.
Following on the commedia dellâ€™arte tradition of stock characters and stock situations, we have here a classic story of identical twins and mistaken identity. Grant Oâ€™Rourke as both Zanetto and Tonino works his â€œstocksâ€ off. He is faultless at switching expression, demeanour and accent from the suave, cultured Venetian gentleman Tonino, to his bucolic, earthy peasant brother Zanetto.
Both twins have come to Verona to be married. Both mix up their fiancees and their lives. Dani Heron as fiancee Rosaura is a typical girly (Glaswegian!) airhead. Her jargon and mode of speech is the â€œoh my god, oh my god,â€ variety, peppered throughout with excruciating malapropisms. Jessica Hardwick as fiancee Beatrice is by contrast a fiercely feminist, intelligent woman, who knows her place and stands no nonsense. Added to this mix is a scheming father, a feisty maid servant, an unscrupulous minister, a hapless manservant, an upper class fop, and a barmaid prone to falling down a trapdoor. Throw in a stream of hoary jokes, told with such wit and panache that they seem brand new, colourful sets and costumes, merry music, and an enjoyable romp is had by all.
Performances at the Lyceum Theatre until 16th May.
Contact the box office onÂ 0131 248 4848 or www.lyceum.org.uk