VTC, Retreat Farm to present ‘The Servant of Two Masters’ outdoors

BRATTLEBORO — The Vermont Theatre Company and Retreat Farm will collaborate on a production of Carlo Goldoni's The Servant of Two Masters, a modern Italian commedia, adapted from the 1743 play by Jeffrey Hatcher and Paolo Emilio Landi.

“This classic is a hilarious and convoluted story of mistaken identities, disguises, miscommunications, and matters of honor by which true lovers are kept apart and then, as if by clockwork, are finally brought together,” states Jessa Rowan, the director, in a news release.

She describes why she wanted to direct this show:

“Upon first reading the play,” she writes, “one may think it is pretty absurd. This play is about a woman trying to find her brother's murderer and her true love. Throughout her journey, her foolish servant gets himself into trouble, accidentally becoming employed by her lover.

“As the servant strives to overcome the limits of serving two masters, his efforts spin him into a web that is unbeweavable, until, finally, the only escape for him, as for us, is art. Consequently, even though The Servant of Two Masters was written in the 18th century, somehow the humor of this play still rings true today.”

Rowan thinks the play's appeal nearly three centuries after its debut might be due to “the free-wheeling improvisation of the commedia dell'arte, or the over-the-top clowning and physical energy that “has us reeling.”

“After all, commedia dell'arte is not a dead tradition in theater. It survives through reincarnations in cinema, slapstick, stand-up comics, and performances where gesture, movement, rhythm and sound are more important than words. This kind of comedy transcends languages and cultures.”

She concludes that, “given the opportunity to direct live theater once again after these dark Covid years, it seemed necessary to choose an over the top comedy like this one. I, for one, feel the need to laugh, laugh, and laugh some more.”

The Servant of Two Masters features Nathaniel Frederickson as Truffaldino. The cast also includes Tino Benson, Geof Dolman, Lyndel Travis Farmer-Major, Dan Jarvis, Olivia McNeely, Michelle Page, Avellana Ross, Rebecca Saunders, Christopher Timmons, and Shannon Ward.

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