The Venetian Twins is a 1747 play by Carlo Goldoni. Twins is a farce, performed in traditional commedia dell’arte. It’s based around long-lost identical twins falling in and out of favour with the same two women. The eponymous Venetian Twins Zanetto and Tonino are unlike each other in every way, except for the fact they look exactly the same – which is fodder for a riotous evening of comedy.
I didn’t know what to expect when I went to see Twins. All I knew of the play was that it was Italian and classical. I therefore expected something sombre and Shakespearean – but I could not have been more wrong. This play is absolutely rooted in comedy, highly physicalized comedy at that, and translated unexpectedly well to the University stage.
Both twins were played by the same person, Jonty O’Callaghan, which was an admirable feat of line-learning. There was no loss of energy from O’Callaghan, despite being on stage for almost all of the play’s duration. I was wholly impressed by his characterisation. Playing one twin as a bumbling fool and the other as pompously posh, it was almost as if they were played by two different people. Credit to his dramatic skill and the direction of Katie Logie.
This play had sword fighting sequences, which I found so exciting. Vivi Bayliss as fight captain did very well here, as did the actors in controlling long fencing swords.
All the actors did extremely well in their portrayal of the characters. Especially Will Thompson as the strangely sleazy, old Pancrazio, and Kirsty Bennet as the old, slow moving Brighella. Both actors had the audience in tears of laughter, and shone in every scene they were in, particularly in their audience interaction.
In conclusion I was very impressed by this performance. I hope its success allows for more classical comedy to be performed at the Guild, as I thought it worked extremely effectively. Well done to all involved, and the standing ovation on the night I saw the performance was beyond deserved.