A Servant to Two Masters

CHRISTOPHER SMITH Sewell Barn Theatre, Norwich


The title sets the scene. No-one can be a servant to two masters, not without either tears or laughter. In this modern translation by Lee Hall, Carlo Goldoni makes certain it's the funny side we see in a comedy in 18th century Venice. Very pretty it is too, a few hints of the right sort of architecture, a glimpse of shining water, even mooring posts for gondolas evoke the place. There things just get more complicated by the minute in Peter James' production.

Take a pretty woman in a fine gown, another who cuts a trim figure in a gentleman's suit and an old dodderer. Add a lawyer too, spouting Latin and looking grave, and a pair of young men. Easy enough to guess what they have got on their minds.

The extra ingredient is Truffaldino, played by David Joslin. On the make, on the ball and soon in the soup as he doubles the stages and nearly loses his chips. The plot twists and he gets entangled. What saves him? Boundless energy as he refuses to stay knocked down.

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There is something relentless about the humour, not even the soppy bits are taken seriously, and though never predictable, you know it will turn out right in the end.

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