Servant of Two Masters opened Qualicum Beach’s Bard to Broadway’s 20th season on Tuesday, July 2.
The show follows the tradition of a ‘comedy of errors’ using slapstick and mistaken identity as the basis for humour.
The plot follows a servant, Truffaldino, as he attempts to serve two masters at once. As luck would have it, the two masters’ plots intertwine, and hilarity ensues.
Ben Rosnau was phenomenal as the bumbling, hapless servant Truffaldino. Rosnau’s body language was striking, fully immersing himself in the role. I cringed with his mistakes and crossed my fingers in hopes that his harebrained plans would pan out.
The two masters, Kristin Forester as Beatrice and Dave Paul as Florindo were strong leads with great stage presence. Clarice played by Rowan O’Callaghan was a sassy and snarky heroine, far from your typical ‘damsel in distress.’ I found myself most often watching Jessica Kelly as the spunky Smeraldina, who was a definite highlight.
The story is set up as a ‘play within a play,’ which allows for quite a bit of built-in humour and dramatic irony to shine through. The fourth wall (the invisible wall between the audience and the actors) was broken immediately with various characters throughout the play addressing the audience directly to ensure we had our facts straight.
Good thing, too, because the old Italian names were difficult at first for even this second-generation Calabrese woman to keep track of.
The show was peppered with Shakespearean references, some purposefully misquoted for great comedic effect. Sexual innuendo ran through the play, with most quite tasteful and entertaining. However, one crude reference near the end of the play was a bit too obvious to be funny.
The musical numbers were ambitious, and at times the harmonies didn’t quite come together. Nevertheless, adaptations of modern pop and rock songs were well-received by an appreciative audience. Uptown Funk as performed by the handsome but somewhat clueless Silvio, played by Jesse Brittain, was a personal highlight. It also had some of the best backing vocals in the show.
Recognition must be given to Fred Saliani for being the only instrument in the two-hour production. Saliani’s guitar backed every musical number and he didn’t miss a beat as he played on-stage, in costume and in character.
The costuming was spot on, with rich fabrics and bright colours adding interest and liveliness.
Servant of Two Masters marks Bard to Broadway’s 80th show in Qualicum Beach.