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Teen Critic Reviews: The Servant of Two Masters

About the Program

Designed for high school students interested in journalism and/or critical writing, the Teen Critic Program at Shakespeare Theatre Company teaches students how to view theatrical productions with a critical eye and how to write an informed comprehensive theatre review.

Teen Critics write reviews of STC’s mainstage productions. Here are excerpts from their reviews of The Servant of Two Masters.

On commedia dell’arte:

“The play is of the Italian commedia dell’arte style, meaning that it incorporates slapstick, bawdy humor, and carnival-like tricks into one silly and highly entertaining piece of theater, thanks to the expert direction of Christopher Bayes.” (Emma Marshall, Sidwell Friends School)

“Whereas typically a play employs devices such as monologues, dialogues, and ensemble pieces to advance the plot, here they are in fact the show piece, introduced by what little plot there is. The humor is incredibly broad, bordering on the cartoonish. Lines are overplayed and delivered with an enthusiasm approaching religious zeal.” (Joseph Powers, T.C. Williams High School)

On the set:

“Iconic images of drama were used for the set, designed by Katherine Day, including a free standing curtain and a cloth backdrop of white clouds against a bright blue sky.  It was splendidly cheesy, like watching a troupe way back from Goldoni’s time put on a performance in the middle of the village square.  The set also permitted the actors to move around a lot, and they certainly took advantage of the opportunity.” (Jenny Rossberg, Langley High School)

On the costumes:

“Designed by Valérie Thérèse Bart, every outfit looked like a piece of theatre history; pieced, patched, and mismatched, with authentic masks and archetypes like Truffaldino’s famous diamond patched one piece, or Pantaloon’s red tights and yellow slippers.” (Jenny Rossberg, Langley High School)

On the music:

“Recalling the origins of commedia dell’arte, music is performed live throughout the play by Aaron Halva and Chris Curtis. Dressed in costumes and confined to a corner of the stage the musicians add their own source of comedy with what appeared to be improvised compositions and a stirring, violin solo for more ’emotional’ scenes, bringing out laughter from the audience.” (Joal Chen, Blake High School)

On the characters and the cast:

“The characters are all in the style of the commedia – overblown, overwrought and sublimely entertaining. They are heavy-handed in exactly the right sort of way, leaving aside all natural sensibilities in the pursuit of the ideal caricature.” (Emma Marshall, Sidwell Friends School)

“While Servant featured a tight ensemble with good chemistry, the glue of the production was Steven Epp as Truffaldino. He perfectly played into his jester archetype of naïve dunce and witty charmer, never missing the chance for wisecracks and quips, as well as off-tangent rants. He enabled the audience to feel sympathy for his plight—hunger—and shake their heads at his utter stupidity.” (Sarah Paez, T.C. Williams High School)

Quotations we love:

“If taken at face value, The Servant of Two Masters could be interpreted as a ridiculous performance of pure silliness. But if you embrace the silliness and see the ingenuity of Servant’s message—a social critique under the guise of absolute hilarity—you are greatly rewarded as an audience member.” (Sarah Paez, T.C. Williams High School)

In every way, Shakespeare Theatre Company executed Two Masters perfectly. While perfect execution does not imply universal appeal, this production will undoubtedly find a large audience to appreciate its magic. (Joseph Powers, T.C. Williams High School)

“All in all, leave the kids at home (the language is definitely coarse) and come see The Servant of Two Masters, which has been extended through July 8 and laugh your *ahem* off.” (Joal Chen, Blake High School)

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