These past few days marked my trip to Oxford to visit a friend from school who now lives and works there (on the off-chance you’re reading this, hi Ceyda!), along with her sister (whose blog you can find here and should read, obviously). Amidst museum wanderings, semi-successful punting expeditions, and a jaunt to London to attend YALC on Friday, we took in a spot of Shakespeare at the Bodleian, as you do on a summery Thursday evening.
Shakespeare’s Globe, in conjunction with Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse, are touring a production of The Two Gentlemen of Verona, directed by Nick Bagnall, which sees Shakespeare’s early comedy launched brashly and boldly into the 20th century, a musical and theatrical mashup that should please even someone having a bad day. In fact, I defy you to sit and not clap or tap feet along to the music. Believed to be Shakespeare’s first play, Two Gentlemen tells the story of Valentine and Proteus, two young men who discover the trials and tribulations of falling in love in quite a spectacular (and farcical) fashion. Considered by some critics to be his weakest play, nevertheless Two Gentlemen is a comedy which teases the themes later plays will return to with such roaring success, including cross dressing heroines, a band of outlaws, the inconstancy of men, clownish servants, and men (and women) frankly being fools in love.
“Valentine loves Silvia and Proteus loves Julia – but Proteus is fickle and falls for Silvia too. When Valentine plots an elopement, Proteus betrays him and Valentine is banished and joins some outlaws in the forest. What are the chances that he’ll be pursued by Silvia, and Silvia by Proteus, and Proteus by Julia, and that all will be waited upon – after a fashion – by their servants Speed and Launce and even Launce’s dog, Crab?”
(Synopsis taken from The Globe’s programme)