Marlene S. Gaylinn
Marlene S. Gaylinn

Marlene S. Gaylinn shares her reviews on local theatre in Connecticut and New York in the Marchedition of her newsletter, On CT & NY Theatre. This month's shows are:

Read Gaylinn's reviews.

  • "American Ballet Theater" at Metropolitan Opera House. Plays till June 28th
  • "Mary Poppins" at Westchester B'way Theatre. Plays till July 27th
  • "Sing for your Shakespeare" at Westport Country Playhouse. Plays till June 28th.

A Bonus review:

THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA

The sky was clear, the stars were bright, and it was a perfect opening night for “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” at Norwalk’s Pinkney Park.  This seldom-performed comedy, said to be one of Shakespeare’s earliest works is mainly about love and loyalty.  The plot is a bit convoluted so it would be wise to read the Program’s Synopsis before the show begins.

In short, two close buddies from Verona, “Proteus” (Ben Chase) and “Valentine” (Nicholas Urda) are coming of age and thinking about their future.  Proteus is sure that he’s in love with “Julia” (Medina Senchore) and is busy writing her love letters while his comic servant, “Speed,” (Matthew Dalton Lynch), cautions him about the nature of love.  Meanwhile, Valentine bid Proteus farewell and is off to Milan in his quest for new adventures.  Along the way, Valentine falls in love with Sylvia (Katie Wieland).  As luck would have it, Proteus is sent to Milan, and while there, he falls in love with Sylvia too.  If you find your way through the forest of love and loyalty, there are enough conflicts between the two men, the two women, the fathers, and even the servants to form a Gordian knot. And, like all fairytales everything neatly untangles in the end.

The clever stage set, by Brian Prather, features two, giant, volumes of Shakespeare.  One of the books lies flat and acts like a platform while its pages are used as steps.  The upright, volume, opened to the play, “The Two Gentlemen of Varona” serves as a backdrop.  The actors, clad in rich and colorful costumes by Grier Coleman, carry cardboard signs, pieces of architecture, trees and other props giving the overall impression of a child’s pop-up book.  The mood lighting by Harrick Goldman and sound design by Shannon Slaton is perfect. Every word can easily be heard.

Director Claire Shannon Kelly should be congratulated for seizing every opportunity to make this obscure comedy come alive.  The use of recorded, classical music is particularly effective.  As one member of our party declared, the lively interludes reminded her of the “Bugs Bunny” cartoons she loved as a child.  It’s very hard to single out any of the leading cast members. Nicholas Urda, Ben Chase, Medina Senghore and Katie Wieland are right in character and give outstanding performances. The hard-working supporting cast and crew deserve extra applause too. 

Tune your eyes and ears to Matthew Dalton Lynch’s interpretation of the clownish “Speed.”  We loved his rubber-limbed antics and major speech illustrating how love is blind.  The long pause, just before the word, “blind,” is sure to invite audience response while the popular phrase sinks in.

Another amusing highlight is “Launce”(Tom Pecinka) the servant to Proteus, who is accompanied by his dog, “Crab.” Crab is really Oliver, a 65-pound, adorable dog  (look for his trainer who sits in the front wearing a white cap).  The love for a pet is sweetly portrayed when Pecinka laments over the trouble his dog is always causing.  However, his love for Crab is so strong that the clown is willing to take full blame for wherever his dog makes a deposit. Oliver looks up with innocent expressions and plays his part well too.

Bring the whole family, come early and picnic in the park.  Blanket and low chairs have separate areas.  Flashlights and jackets come in handy. Bugs are not very annoying.

Plays to June 29 – Oudoors @ 7:30 pm.  Street Parking. Free/Donation requested.