The Two Gentlemen of Verona – Smock Alley – Review
28 + 30 Jul – 8pm – Boys’ School
This is the story of Proteus (Luke Sookdeo) and Valentina (Tyler Kane). They are two old friends looking for the perfect woman. Valentina leaves for Milan to broaden his horizons. Proteus has found love with Julia (Rosabelle Bennet), but when his father demands he travels to Milan to join Valentina, he finds a new object for his desires, in the form of Sylvia (Cerian Young). The only problem is that this is also the woman that Valentina has fallen for!
This was the first play ever written by Shakespeare. It was written in 1589 when Shakespeare was only 25 years of age. If Dead Centre’s work Chekhov’s First Play has taught us anything, it’s that even the greats have to learn their trade. While his language skills are obvious, the story is straightforward, to say the least. The play is rarely performed and this production will give many a chance to see it on stage for the first time.
The production is set in the 1990s, with interludes from the local DJ on Radio Verona playing the hits of the decade. While the production stays true to the original, it is playful and uses the setting well. There is even a dance sequence to the Spice Girls! It’s performed in the round, with the seating on three sides.
This is a production by Purple Door Theatre, a company based in Liverpool that aims to promote “upcoming talent from the North of England”. The actors are for the most part in their early 20s. They are a young collective learning their trade and the diction of some of the cast could be improved. There are, however, a few standout performances including Luke Sookdeo as Proteus and Rosabelle Bennet as Julia. If you’re looking for a polished gem, it’s not here, but much like Shakespeare himself, everyone has to start somewhere!