The Two Gentlemen of Verona

Date 19th March 2024
Society The Green Room Theatre, Wilmslow
Venue The Green Room Theatre, Wilmslow
Type of Production Play
Director Mike Rogerson and Celia Bonner
Written By William Shakespeare

Report

Author: Steph Niland

The Green Room, Wilmslow, has a long history of putting on impressive Shakespeare plays and this one is another success in that remarkable lineage.

Probably his first play, the Two Gentlemen of Verona is a study of the two opposing and sometimes conflicting forces of love and loyalty – essentially, a fickle and fluctuating lead and what business ensues when he pursues whatever he wishes.

The story may seem to have too many “about faces” in the last few minutes to satisfy today’s modern audiences. Would we be so forgiving in our more enlightened eras? Probably not, but staying true to the script is the name of the game here. We must leave our more modern sentimentalities and incredulity outside the auditorium and enjoy the tale for what it is.

There were so many wonderful performances in this production – a real team effort. If a turn is not mentioned in this report, please be reassured your renditions were appreciated and worthy.

Steve Berrington is accomplished in all he does and his Proteus in this piece was full of clear, nuanced humour and timing and he managed to make him endearing, even though the character is selfish and wholly unreliable! His grasp of the language and the way he was driving the narrative was great. Well done.

Valentine was played beautifully by Jamie King. So wholesome and watchable and with a huge range of facial expressions that helped convey subtext and emotion. The delivery of the Shakespearean dialogue was marvellously rendered and believable. Congratulations.

So that’s the ‘gentlemen’ sorted…

Emma Crosbie gave a great, strong performance of Julia. The audience loved the gumption and moxie but the love sickness was also believable. Her first monologue was considered and wonderfully paced despite its difficult content. Emma put in a layered performance and the moments in disguise were rendered brilliantly.

Another solid performance of well-studied character and delivery came from Jess Trimble as Silvia.  This was a very natural portrayal -a perfect Shakespearean leading lady.

A couple of notable performances came in the shape of Lucetta, Julia’s Lady in Waiting, played by Jane Hyde who displayed a lovely, playful and knowing energy and Steve Williamson as Speed. Steve, experienced in playing Shakespeare gave a great character depiction as always. Both actors displayed a healthy grasp on the language and humour.

Paul Lewis exhibited excellent comic timing and a complete command of the scenes he was in as Lance, servant to Proteus. His scenes were the highlight of the evening and the dog puppet partnering was excellently executed.

Simon Caporn deserves a mention, too, for a delightful and funny cameo as Thurio. A great choice of character and voice for that role.

The musical Pollards, Alex and Eilidh, brother and sister duo were a wonderful edition to signpost the era and particular themes through the song choices and, as always at The Green Room with these types of devices, their involvement wasn’t a “bolt on” but a integral part of the action.

The direction was in the capable hands of Celia Bonner and Mike Rogerson. Two extremely experienced directors and you could tell they were, from this play and its flow, humour, comprehension, storytelling and character realisation. Another triumph for this pair. The idea behind the set design was charming, the illustrative style consistent and the use of lights and the scene changes to help the audience understand the shift of location was well thought out and so in keeping with the play’s wit. Well done to Paula Keen, the backstage team, Bruce Williams and John Coghlan and another note to make was the complementing wardrobe. The costumes’ colour hues blended superbly and matched the feel of the set design too. Well done to Di James, Pat Barrow, Jo Everett, Jacque Bilsborough and the team there!