Friday, June 20, 2014


"The Two Gentlemen of Verona" has the double distinction of being one of William Shakespeare's first plays and first comedy.  Early on, he played with the themes of friendship and love, betrayal and inconstancy.  Even at his beginnings, he was witty and urbane and slightly contemptuous of love at first sight and love that defied obstacles and he enjoyed testing friendships and fidelity.

Shakespeare on the Sound, in its 19th year of offering excellent productions of the Bard, is once again providing a splendid look into Shakespeare's world of characters on a lovely rolling hill on the Five Mile River, in Pinkney Park, in Rowayton at sunset from now until Sunday, June 29.  The set of books and pages, "novelly" created by Brian Prather, opens to reveal the captivating tales of Valentine (Nicholas Urda) and Proteus (Ben Chase), two bosom buddies, residing in Verona.

Proteus is clearly enamored of the fair Julia (Medina Senghore) and tries to distinguish himself from her other suitors.  To that end, he sends her letters of affection but she tears them to shreds and claims to care not a whit for him.  Meanwhile Valentine is full of scorn for Proteus' pain and is ever so disdainful of love's agonies.

Shakespeare, of course, quickly makes Valentine a fool for love by sending him off to Milan, where he promptly sights the sensual Silvia (Katie Wieland) and loses his heart to her.  Running around retrieving  her dropped gloves, he can't imagine life without her.  Also hoping to woo her is the comic and cavalier Sir Thurio (Scott Watson), the choice of Silvia's father (Nicholas Stannard).  When Proteus is sent to Milan in pursuit of Valentine, he too spies Silvia and promptly forgets his true love Julia in favor of his new affection for Silvia.

Rivalries ensue as Julia follows them and disguises herself as a boy (sound familiar?), letters go astray, plots are foiled, outlaws in the forest attack, rings are given and regifted but, with the Bard's help, everyone ends up paired and matched with suitable dispatch.The colorful costume parade is delightful as are the entrances and exits of Crab, with his master Launce (Tom Pecinka). Crab is  a pooch who looks with disdain on all the foolishness.  Oliver as Crab has been trained by animal expert Bill Berloni and steals the spotlight, possibly in the only play that calls for a canine.  Claire Shannon Kelly directs this romp of romance.

This is the perfect family summer entertainment under the stars and donations at the door are most welcome.  Performances are evenings at 7:30 p.m., except Monday, for a show that runs almost 2 and a half hours.  Bring a chair or blanket, dinner or snacks and the kiddies and savor this summer show courtesy of Shakespeare. 

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