Review: The Venetian Twins
They flicked the switch and lit up the big plastic tree as I walked home through Martin Place tonight so I guess Christmas must be only weeks away. That means it’s also the perfect time to hiss the villain, holla for heroes and clap along to silly songs.
Nick Enright and Terence Clarke’s spin on Carlo Goldoni’s 1743 comedy throws everything but the kitchen sink at the tale of two twins, separated at birth, who just happen to turn up in the same town, on the same day, with a view to tying the knot.
It was a big hit for Enright and Clarke in 1979 and Mackenzie Steele’s shameless crowd-pleasing production pretty much gets it right.
Set somewhere between Verona and Jindyworoback, it’s as though stock Aussie bush characters from the 1970s have travelled back in time and joined a commedia dell’arte troupe. Sean Minahan’s design actually looks like old hessian bags have been draped, in haste, by wandering players to create a proscenium stage. It’s easy to imagine everything could be bundled onto the back of a cart to be dragged to the next town. Alice Morgan’s retro costumes are a bold mash up of colour and eras and are quick change ready for action. What can I say, it looks great.
On the night I was in, quite obviously due to technical snafus and amidst the confusion of who was courting who on stage, it took a while for the performers to woo the audience. The words and so the wit was getting lost and the 9-piece band too often drowned out the singing voices not picked up by the overhead mikes. Still both the cast and audience persevered and eventually the glitches were sorted out and finally the laughs started coming.
For me it was Dean Vince playing the heinous Pancrazio who delivered the standout performance. Tall and gracefully wicked, the audience welcomed his every entrance and bemoaned his exits. That said Jay James-Moody was certainly convincing as the twins, so much so that sometimes I forgot it was the same actor.
This is all about having a good time and I certainly had one at the Newie.
The Venetian Twins, New Theatre. Until 15 December. Bookings: 1300 347 205 or newtheatre.org.au