Theatre for a New Audiences at the Polansky Shakespeare Center in Brooklyn, has reinvented The Servant of Two Masters, written by Carlo Goldoni. This show has been transformed into a feast for the eyes, heart and soul. From the moment the curtain opens, an immensely appealing show has become improvised as if to delight a child, adolescent and the adult in all of us. The show was performed with joy, exuberance, color, laughter and fairy tale magic.
Steven Epp, is a heartbreakingly endearing and hilarious Truffaldino and Allen Gilmore, a hip-hop merchant who leaves us in stitches. They give standout performances and lead a sterling cast of sparkling actors, including Orlando Pabotoy, Liz Wisan and Emily Young as Florinda, Beatrice and Smeraldina, respectively. They all touch funny bones we didn’t know we had. Abetted by the brilliant musical direction and composition of Aaron Halva and Christopher Curtis, as the director, Christopher Bayes, weaves modern songs such as “Drop It Like Its Hot,” farce, mime and dance to take aim at all our sacred spaces including age, sexual mores, politics and gender identity. The fourth wall is broken as scenic designer, Katherine Akiko Day and Costume Designer Valerie Therese Bart take us on a wild ride through the world of ancient Venice.
The Commedia dell’arte naturally celebrates the common man and pokes daggers of fun at the pretensions antics of the rich and powerful. This show reclaims theatre as a “safe equal opportunity zone.” This is a place for the emancipation of all the disenfranchised.
The stereotypical archetypes become an opportunity for a speech to affirm a woman’s empowerment, to live her life freely. This is a way for all of us to laugh at the folly of politics and understand that art is a free space for self-expression, which can truly liberate us to live our authentic selves. Art truly is the sheltered place we all long for because it allows for all forms of ideas, expression, humor and humanity to be expressed freely – that is Humanity’s “True Secure Zone”.
Our players interweave modern satire, pop songs, commercial jingles and current events into a feast for the heart and soul that heals and delights every one of our senses. We owe them an invaluable debt. The brilliant acting and enchanting laughter they evoke with their creative artistry, musical inventiveness, delightful set and costume design and makeup takes us back to our child-like ability to believe that all will be right with the universe in a world where we laugh and love together.
The director and cast fulfill a quote in the playbill from George Sand that “. . . every satire lays bare the spiritual poverty of mankind”, but at the same time, they are able to heal and fill us with a banquet of the shared cathartic of a comedic humane theatre experience.