And now for something completely silly.
Lamb’s Players Theatre mounts a handsome production of its musical adaptation of 18th-century playwright Carlo Goldoni’s “The Servant Of Two Masters,” with book and lyrics by David McFadzean and music by Deborah Gilmour Smyth.
McFadzean opts for broad comedy – think slapstick, vaudeville, street theater – which this goofy plot invites – and a farcical treatment that trades on sight gags and malapropisms, with a few fart and snot jokes tossed in. McFadzean calls it “writing for the cheap seats.”
The plot is convoluted, but here’s the short form: blonde bimbette Clarice (Rebecca Spear) is engaged to Beatrice’s brother, but wants to marry Silvio (Nick Spear). Beatrice (Colleen Kollar Smith) comes to Clarice’s father Pantalone (Robert Smyth) disguised as her brother (who has been killed in a duel) to collect Clarice’s dowry so she, Beatrice, can marry her lover Florindo (Lance Smith).
Meanwhile, the servant Truffledino (Geno Carr), who lives, breathes and dreams about food (but never seems to get enough), takes on a second job (and a second master), and much of the plot revolves around his efforts to keep them straight. Truffledino has an eye for Clarice’s servant, the sharp-tongued Smeraldina (Nancy Snow Carr).
Let’s see, there’s also the lady innkeeper Brighella (Deborah Gilmour Smyth), and the great pre-show crew (Jesse Abeel, Bryan Barbarin and Caitie Grady), who do the exit-and-cell-phone speech and later serve as stagehands.
Since the play is all about love, Lamb’s has cast four married couples as the pairs who will eventually end up together in the play. There’s nothing subtle here, nothing you’ll need to go home and think about; just a straight-on, romp-in-the-park farce with stock commedia dell’arte characters enhanced by terrific production values.
Jeanne Reith has created a slew of terrifically colorful costumes, bright to the point of gaudiness, adding to the over-the-top presentation.
The four-man band plays from a lowered center stage “pit,” and Colleen Kollar Smith’s choreography fits right in with the scene.
Smyth’s music – a combination of “circus and French chanteuse,” she says – bops right along.
The set, lighting and sound design are top-notch in this boisterous, raucous, joyously silly over-the-top show.
Goldoni is having a big year. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival has a different musical version of this classic on the boards now. And local theater audiences saw National Theatre of London’s recent take, “One Man, Two Guvnors,” in movie theaters, thanks to NT Live. This play is slated for a Broadway opening in the spring.
“The Servant Of Two Masters” plays through Nov. 20 at Lamb’s Players Theatre, 1142 Orange Ave. in Coronado.
Tuesday through Thursday at 7:30 pm; Friday and Saturday at 8; matinees Saturday at 4 and Sunday at 2 pm.
For tickets call (619) 437-6000 or visit HERE.
To read more reviews by SDGLN Theater Critic Jean Lowerison, click HERE.