July 24, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Unpredictable Shakespeare Theatre Company Production Offers a Political/Comic Twist

Shakespeare Theatre Company

During this Washington run, the actors call out Congress, the Occupy movement, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the new French president, Francois Hollande. One old man with a hunched back complains about still paying off his student loans.

“I’m being filibustered out of a wife,” the unlucky servant complains at one point.

The House as One

Another treat of attending this kind of show is that anything can, might and will happen.

In fact, the night this reviewer saw the show, there was a hilarious moment of actual unrehearsed comedy. The villain Pantalone (Allen Gilmore) was moving downward, when he accidentally split his pants.

For a moment, everyone — actors, musicians, audience — stopped.

Almost at the same moment, the shock and comedy of what happened transferred through the house and the room erupted into laughter and applause. Gilmore showed the hole to the audience and to Silvio (Andy Grotelueschen), who was trying not to laugh onstage.

“I’ll pay for your therapy,” Gilmore promised. The show went on.

However, from that point, the accident became part of the world of the play. References to the split were tossed off and at least one actor exiting the stage admonished another entering to “watch your inseam.”

It was a moment when the entire theater — performers and audience — actively made comedy together. It was a moment that can’t be replayed.

At once, “The Servant of Two Masters” captured what is most special about watching live performance: the dramatic tension that comes from not really knowing what will happen next mixed with the theater’s temporal nature.

With a comedy as outrageous and fast-paced as this one, the audience — and perhaps even the actors — will never really know what’s going to happen next. And, in the end, that is the very reason to go.

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