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The Mom Review: 'Servant' An Over-The-Top Farce

By Rebecca Dravis
iBerkshires Staff
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Editor's Note: This is the fifth installment of The Mom Review, a summer-long series of reviews of family-friendly theater, dance, art exhibits, etc., by iBerkshires Community Editor Rebecca Dravis and her 8-year-old daughter, Noelle, who hope to give you some ideas for summer family fun.

LENOX, Mass. — A visit to the Rose Footprint Theatre at Shakespeare & Company is a highlight of our summer. The comedy staged annually in the tented theater is always entertaining, interactive and very kid-friendly.

This year's "The Servant of Two Masters" is all of those, but it wasn't as funny as previous Rose shows. It also has the misfortune of being up against "The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged)," which is playing in the Tina Packer Playhouse and is the funniest thing I have seen a very long time. (Read the Mom Review here.)

So while I was entertained, I did not laugh as much as maybe I would have liked.

The play is an adaptation of this classic Commedia dell’arte farce by Carlo Goldoni and features an energetic cast of young local actors. It tells the story of an outrageous and crafty servant, Truffaldino, a threadbare clown in mad search of food, money and attention. In one implausible day, Truffaldino simultaneously ends up with two masters and two jobs – and what Truffaldino doesn’t know is that his masters are star-crossed lovers, and one of them is only disguised as a man. But they aren’t the only lovers in town as two impatient old parents attempt to plan a wedding between children that will bring the highest return on their investment. Truffaldino’s predicament stirs up a ridiculous chain of events as he sets out to keep his double service concealed, find romance himself - and get some dinner.

I think the main reason I did not find this play as funny as previous performances was that it just slightly TOO over the top, slightly TOO dramatic for my tastes. It was almost like watching a cariacture of a really good farce.

Kids, though, always seem to love it. Noelle was entertained, though she did not understand the story, which is common with fast-paced productions that have multiple plot twists. Kids will just enjoy it for what it is: colorful costumes, amusing songs, sword fighting, actors running through the audience and around the theater interacting with the audience, etc. There was a baby fussing in the back of the show we saw, so I would recommend caution with infants and toddlers, but preschoolers on up should find it an enjoyable 80 minutes.

Now for Noelle: It was really funny. I like how they come up and down the aisles. And I like the song at the beginning where they sing about the rules. I loved the sword fighting. My favorite part was the scene in the dining room where they sang about dinner. I would go see it again.

The show runs through Aug. 23 on Fridays, Saturdays and Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are free for students and $15 for adults. For tickets and information, visit shakespeare.org.

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