‘The Venetian Twins’ (Lyceum: 24 April – 16 May ’15)

Angela Darcy as Columbina and Grant O'Rourke as Tonino. Photos by Alan McCredie

Angela Darcy as Columbina and Grant O’Rourke as Tonino.
Photos by Alan McCredie

“Helpless merriment awaits”

Editorial Rating: 4 Stars

The fun that there is to be had with twins, eh? And with the long-legged long lost sister who, naturally, is being wooed by one of the brothers, but which one? There’s a consultation on offer with Dr Freud but, nah, he stays in Vienna and it’s much more jolly here in a sun dappled piazza in rosy Verona.

Wednesday was a shocking day in Lothian and so all the more reason to enjoy one of Signor Goldoni’s cloudless comedies. It’s funny what a master drammaturgo can do with disinheritance, murder, suicide and a lovesick ginger loon in lime green.

That’s Carlo Goldoni of a Servant of Two Masters (1743) and many, many more of that ilk. Its near relation has to be I Due Gemelli Veneziani (1750), respectfully translated, because our Edinburgh is the city of La Favorita, ‘the authentic Italian experience’. And just like those jaunty yellow 500s that we see around and about so adaptor/director Tony Cownie delivers big time – in FIAT speak – ‘an emotional mixture of vintage flavours, where everything is colourful, joyful and [almost] authentic’, plus a high speed rally of Scots accents and banter. It’s also now around 1905, Italian railways are steaming in but a bag of gold and a box of jewels will still buy you a bride in an astonishing frock.

‘This place is mental, eh?, declares Twin 1, provincial Zanetto, who is a mild and endearing sort. He’s come to town from the sheep folds and pig pens of Bergamo to marry Rosaura, whom he’s never met, but who has been kept under house arrest for her (rich) Intended. Poor Rosaura! Home tuition didn’t help much and she suffers from acute malapropism, make-up dependency, and the lust of Pancrazio, the priest, who is a top graduate of the Tartuffe school of rank hypocrisy. Twin 2, is dauntless and debonair Tonino, whose tireless belief in the beauty that is Venice and in his no less beauteous self, probably led to his conflicted fiancée, Beatrice (PhD), running away to Verona where she meets …. Zanetto. Signore e signori, it’s the face-off show! Meanwhile, opposite Rosaura’s just has to be the inn of the Two Cocks where more helpless merriment awaits behind the bar.

Dani Heron as Rosaura and Steve McNicoll as Pancrazio

Dani Heron as Rosaura and Steve McNicoll as Pancrazio

Twins 1 and 2 are – or is – Grant O’Rourke. It is a treat of a ‘double’ performance where panache meets dead-pan humour and survives. Dani Heron serves up Rosaura as a pink sweetie and the whole piece, actually, is offered con brio: from the bright accordion music to the swashing sword play and pink cravat of posh boy Lelio (James Anthony Pearson). Kern Falconer’s turn as barmaid Mammy Flozzie is a shameless hoot whilst Steve McNicoll as the villainous Pancrazio exists seconds away from pantomime hisses.

The audience knows just about what to expect at every madcap moment because the characters delight in telling them – especially Angela Darcy’s fly Columbina; but there are a couple of slaps in the face, as a reminder that Goldoni’s laughs can and perhaps should at times own a keener edge. You won’t miss them, though, but you might feel for good ole’ Zanetto as I did.

Star (blue)Star (blue)Star (blue)Star (blue)

Reviewer: Alan Brown (Seen 5 May)

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