The Judith Shakespeare Company, founded in 1995, did a great job putting on this production of Two Gentlemen of Verona. JSC is interested in bringing clarity and liveliness to Shakespeare’s plays while making the presence of woman known in classical theater. Back in Shakespeare’s day, woman where not allowed in the theater, so men played the roles of woman. Since woman could not act in the theater in those times, and now they can, why not make it so that they play the males role. Some what of a subtle, but not so subtle, woman’s empowerment act.
The show begins.
Proteus and Valentine, best friends, closer then brothers, who love two different women. Proteus’ love is Julia, and Valentine’s love is the fair Silvia. Valentine follows his love to a far away land to work for her father and possibly steal Silvia away with him. Silvia is arranged to be married to a man she doesn’t love, Thurio. Proteus stays behind for a little while to spend time with his beloved Julia before following his friend across the sea. Proteus gives Julia his ring and she gives him her ring in remembrance of one another. Once Proteus gets to this land where his dear friend is his falls for Silvia. But what he thinks is love is truly lust. He sees Silvia and immediately thinks she is the most beautiful being he has ever seen, and this causes him to forget about Julia and claim her dead. Meanwhile Julia ran away from home to go follow him across the ocean because no distance is far enough for her love. In the end Proteus’ lust comes out and he tries to rape Silvia, but thankfully Valentine saves her. Julia, who had been hiding in plan sight, reveals herself to Proteus and he realizes what an idiot he is.
The most interesting thing about this play is that Valentine and Proteus are played by women, and Julia and Silvia, by men. At first this fact is fairly distracting and humorous, but after about fifteen minutes or so you forget. The play was interesting and had its share of laughs and giggles, but I am not a big Shakespeare fan, he tends to bore me with his helplessly lustful romanticized version of how life really is. Although his stories are beautiful, they annoy me. He always seemed to make the woman helpless, unable, quite ignorant, and weak. Always to stay faithful to their cheating fellow. This was an interesting play, and people should see it for the experience, even if you don’t like Shakespeare.