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THEATRE: 20 DECEMBER 2017

By GERALDINE WORTHINGTON

The Servant of Two Masters, by Carlo Goldoni | Directed by Francesca Savige

Sport for Jove Theatre Co (www.sportforjove.com.au) | Bella Vista Farm Park, Bella Vista, Sydney | Until 30 December

Commedia began in 16th-century Italy and continues to appeal to audiences worldwide, courtesy of the skills passed down throughout the centuries.

Francesa Savige’s and George Bander’s excellent production of The Servant of Two Masters ensures these skills are preserved, updated and abundantly displayed.

Originally produced in 1753, Carlo Goldoni’s play was masterfully revived by the National Theatre in England and visited Australia in 2013, setting a very high benchmark for future productions.

Truffaldino, the central character, is here played by a far more understated but most charismatic George Zhao, who is well suited to the physically demanding role. In order to double his opportunities this zanni [Ed: look it up, I had to] puts himself in the service of two bosses.

The repertoire of jokes, funny speeches, comic insults, and physical stunts abound. The silliness of the mixed-up words, as servants transfer messages between the lovers or prestigious persons, as always results in total confusion.

Add to the mix disguise, chance encounters, engagements, weddings, tales of duels and dowries, comic mishaps, more mix-ups, rumours of death, threatened suicide and you have a great deal of stage business to follow!

The energetic cast never miss a beat and they ensure the lazzis remain fresh, vibrant and funny, whilst Francesca Savige’s intelligent direction allows room for the actors to improvise and elaborate.

At the most aptly named Bella Vista the venue effortlessly adds authenticity to the setting. Which Sallyanne Facer’s clever set further enhances. It is understated but highly evocative and allows the enthusiastic ensemble to update the familiar stock characters whilst retaining total realism.

All are present and all are once again brought to life by a most talented cast—  the lovers, the innamorati, kept apart by the il vecchi, the old men and of course the ever-hungry zanni, the servants. At the conclusion, the couples happily marry and everyone is happy!

This is a production that looks good and moves fast.

Thumbs up!

Images: Kate Williams.