Now in its 9th year, Sport For Jove’s popular summer season is back. One half of this year’s line up is Carlo Goldoni’s comedy of errors, The Servant of Two Masters. This version has been wittily adapted and directed by SFJ alumni George Banders and Francesca Savige.
This quintessentially Italian play (with some Australianisms thrown in by the creatives for good measure) follows the story of Truffaldino, an enterprising, opportunistic and hungry servant who takes jobs according to the prospect of food. He cleverly devises a plan to work for, you guessed it, two masters in the hopes of getting double the meals.
Hilarity ensues and slapstick abounds.
Banders and Savige have pushed the comedy to its limits in this production, which is perfect for this outdoor summer show. Characters are caricatures, amusingly hunched over walking sticks or wandering about bow-legged. It’s the whole Italian feast, complete with wine, meatballs and cannoli to finish.
George Zhao as the titular servant Truffaldino is an absolute delight. He is physically lithe and unbelievably energetic, bouncing around the stage from master to meal to master to meal with incredible lightness of foot. The only thing that trips him up? Swallowing a moth on opening night. Zhao’s clowning is truly astounding, and the feast scene perhaps may not work without it.
The cast, as expected, give strong performances throughout. Yalin Ozucelik as bumbling General Pantalone encourages many a hearty guffaw from the audience, and Aanisa Vylet is a commanding Italian mama as Doctor Lombardi. As Silvio Lombardi, clumsy but blindly in love, Gabriel Fancourt is as scrumptious as a plump little olive.
Collectively, the entire cast bring the comedy to life. Endless visual gags and lines in unison keep the comedy moving at a lick, not to mention the physical elements. The surrounds of Bella Vista are utilised to full effect, with balconies and windows adding depth to performance and comedy. Designer Sallyanne Facer evokes the Mediterranean with perfect, delicious simplicity – just like a good Italian meal.
And like any good Italian meal, this production is lengthy. Bring food and wine and hunker down. If you’re sitting in the front, be warned: hungry Italian locals may try their luck at grabbing unguarded food.
Alana Kaye – Theatre Now
Photo Credit: Kate Williams