If you’re looking for a zany, high energy show then look no further than THE SERVANT OF TWO MASTERS at New Village Arts. This world premier adaption by AJ Knox who also directs, and Samantha Ginn who tackles the role of the titular servant, mines every comedic source for inspiration of this frenetic farce.
Based on the commedia dell’arte play by Carlo Goldoni, the show’s ensemble dives right into the play that involves love, marriage, subterfuge, mistaken identity, and one servant who is just trying to get as much dinner as they can eat. As a farce it’s best going in knowing that it is crafted around the exaggerated and the importable, think slapstick, Looney Toon style capers, fart jokes, actors in drag, and double entendres. Updated with more current references, this show does not shy away from upping the comedic stakes or not adding to a joke- after all less is more is decidedly not in the spirit of a farce.
Samantha Ginn leads the ensemble with energy and a quick wit as Truffaldino; she is especially showcased in moments where something went wrong or she got to interact with the audience. Truffalsino is a servant who is determined to get as much food as possible and so take on two employers who promise dinner as part of the paid wages. Unfortunately, Truffaldino is not always smart enough to keep messages and tasks from getting confused, which cause many misunderstandings for the town’s residents.
The rest of the ensemble are just as game for the fun, which is good because the show wouldn’t work if they weren’t all on the same page with this comedic excess. Standouts by Amara Young as the delightfully ditzy daughter who twirls in and out of scenes, with Tony Houck as her fiancé Silvio who is a scene stealer on a pink bicycle.
Max Macke brings the laughs as Smeraldina, Truffaldino’s love interest, with a voice that’s the love child between Gilbert Gottfried and Harvey Fierstein. Durwood Murray is very funny as the father of Houcks’s Silvio and someone who proudly proclaims” there are two things I know…” with various nonsensical facts throughout the show.
If you like the Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy, or even Bugs Bunny’s over the top machinations this show might tickle your funny bone. Some references to 80’sand 90’s media also creep in, along with a mix of more current day references. They won my heart in a scene with food flying everywhere and a reference to Templeton the rat’s song from “Charlotte’s Web” (voiced by Paul Lynde is the gold star standard in my book).
At two and half hours run time this show is either a diverting escapist diversion, or too long by half. It really does depend on how much of “”All comedy. No manners ”as their tag line says, you can take.
THE SERVANT OF TWO MASTERS is playing at New Village Arts through May 5th. For ticket and show time information go to www.newvillagearts.org