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Theater Review: “The Servant of Two Masters”

“The Servant of Two Masters” plays through May 5, 2019 at New Village Arts, 2787 State Street in Carlsbad.
Photo credit:
Daren Scott

Carlo Goldoni’s mid-18th-century “The Servant of Two Masters” is a piece of commedia dell’arte comedy, which in its original form was mostly improvised.

Now New Village Arts’ director of connectivity and local comedic force of nature Samantha Ginn have conspired in a new and completely insane adaptation of the bawdy original play (translated and directed by Knox), and you can see it through May 5 at NVA.

Ginn stars as the titular Truffaldino, a servant who takes two jobs in his (her) quest for enough food. Of course, everything goes awry in the “Teatro Puttanesca” right after Carlo Goldoni (guilty of writing the original) opens the play with a huge fart – which he promptly blames on an inferior chair.

Leave sensibility, manners and class at home as you plunge into this wild, weird and wacky world. Get ready to hear “Mambo Italiano” with different words, and lines like “He’s as dead as Kevin Spacey’s career.” Oh, and exchanges like this:

“Was he incognito?”

“No, he was in Venice.”

Corny? You bet. The plot? Sorry you asked. If you’re like me, you’ll give up in the first ten minutes and just watch the nuttiness. But let’s see….Truffaldino’s master Florindo Alfredo (Skyler Sullivan) is in love with Beatrice Ravioli (Eliana Payne). Truffaldino’s other master Pantalone Calzone (Dallas McLaughlin) has a daughter who is about to marry the outrageous cross-dressing Silvio Pepperoncini (Tony Houck, in rare form).

Truffaldino has a thing for Smeraldina Haggis (Max Macke, a vision of something that you might not call loveliness, but is great fun to watch).

Also flitting through the play are local innkeeper Brighella Boyardee (Gerilyn Brault), looking for a better (or at least richer) class of clients; Doctor Pepperoncini (Durwood Murray), listed as a community college professor who spins conspiracy theories in his spare time. (I suggest more could be made of this.) Oh, and let’s not forget Sherri Allen’s Karen, who flits through looking for her purpose in life.

A lot of craziness goes on, including clowning, pantomime, dance and above all, improvisation, but the real ringmaster is Ginn’s above-mentioned Truffaldino, who jumps, dances, does cartwheels and seems to be everywhere at the same time.

Scott Murillo’s set is not lovely but functional, as it must be. Keira McGee’s costumes (especially for Houck and Macke) are fun. Kudos also to choreographer Jenna Ingrassia-Knox and fight consultant Emily Dragon for fine work in those departments.

Sound is nicely handled by Violet Ceja. Chris Renda and David Romero Christopher contribute fine lighting.

Eliza Doolittle famously complained about being “sick of words” when it seemed the ones she was hearing would not lead to the action she desired. “Servant” could benefit from fewer groaners in the word choice department, and far fewer fart jokes.

But overall, this is a rollicking evening that will require only that you sit back and enjoy the goofiness.

The details

“The Servant of Two Masters” plays through May 5, 2019 at New Village Arts, 2787 State Street in Carlsbad.

Thursday at 7:30 pm; Friday at 8 pm; Saturday at 3 and 8 pm; Sunday at 2 pm

Tickets: (760) 433-3245 or www.newvillagearts.org