The Two Gentlemen of Verona is one of Shakespeare’s lesser-known and less admired plays, but it gets a wonderful production here in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. On entering the auditorium the audience is confronted with an Italian cafe-like set, actors milling about and making conversation. When the play begins, the bustle of the cafe melts into the beginning of the first scene.
Michael Marcus and Mark Arends are excellent as friends Valentine and Proteus: the latter in particular is very good at making Proteus into a conflicted, real character rather than the simple villain who tries to steal the affections of his friend’s girl. Pearl Chanda is natural and heartfelt as Julia, prefiguring later Shakespearean heroines in dressing as a boy to follow Proteus to Milan, while Molly Gromadzki (understudying for an indisposed Sarah Macrae) gives a good performance as Silvia.
As Launce, Roger Morlidge provides a deal of entertainment, greatly assisted by his dog Crab (Mossup the lurcher). It’s hard to believe that this is Simon Godwin’s debut directorial project for the RSC – plots and sub-plots are explored with skill, and he doesn’t shy away from the play’s difficult ending.