Staged, in director Andy Massingham’s new adaptation, in 1950s Venice, The Servant of Two Masters is a commedia masterpiece with the melodramatic overtones of an Italian telenovela. For those who aren’t familiar, commedia dell’arte, is a highly physical, highly stylized genre of comedic theatre characterized in part by masks, stock character types (devious servants, lustful maids, young lovers, miserly old merchants) and twistedly intricate yet simple to follow plots. It is a wonderful form of classic theatre, highly accessible for even the most theatre averse to just let go and laugh.
Truffaldino is servant to Frederigo. Truffaldino is hungry. After a chance meeting, Truffaldino figures he can double his money and meals by taking on a second master and secretly double dealing. Only the real Frederigo is dead and the person that everybody thinks is Freddie, is actually his twin sister Beatrice, dressed in the guise of her brother to collect cash money owed to him by the miserly Pantalone and also to track down her lover Florindo who, as fate would have it, is Truffaldino’s second master. Oh, and Pantolone’s daughter Clarice, in love with the overzealous Silvio, was promised to Frederigo, and so Beatrice has to play along with the engagement to keep her ruse going, much to Clarice and Silvio’s anguish. It’s an uproarious love story full of crazy hijinks, duplicity, briefly broken hearts, romance, and genuine “aw” moments.