Servant of Two Masters

By Carlo Goldoniservant of two masters, omen Sade

Directed by John Szostek

At Piccolo Theatre, Evanston

Classic Commedia dell’Arte Italian farce unleashes a comic star: Omen Sade

The folks at Piccolo Theatre have emerged as one of the few theatre troupes skilled and disciplined enough to create wonderful Commedia dell’Arte. Which means being “comedy of craft”, (shortened from commedia dell’arte all’improviso, or “comedy through the art of improvisation”) is a form of theatre that began in Italy in the mid-16th century characterized by masked “types”, the advent of the actress and improvised performances based on sketches or scenarios with emphasis on improvisation.  Utilizing a strict form, fixed roles and canovaccio or traditional plots, Comedy of Art becomes a meticulous structured form that only skilled physical comics can muster.

In 1745 Carlo Goldoni was commissioned to write a new scenario for the actor Sachio – the result is the Servant of Two Masters. Under director John Szostek’s traditional direction, the Servant of Two Masters is a belly-laugh throughout. Please note that the structure of this comedy faithfully follows the structure of  the Italian comic for. The stage is centered and wooden with cloth backdrops and the entire cast sits on both sides of the stage manning the sound effects and creating music when called form.

servant of two masters, omen Sade

We see the stock characters in leather masks (design by Antonio Fava) as the story unfolds we meet Truffaldino (Omen Sade) the always hungry servant of Beatrice (Denita Linnertz) who is the central character of this comedy. Since Truffaldino is always hungry, we eventually learn that his hungry is more for love than food.

servant of two masters

The central plot: Beatrice, a woman who has traveled to Venice disguised as her dead brother in search of the man who killed him: her lover, Florindo!! (Tommy Venuti) Her brother forbade her to marry Florindo, and died defending her honor. Beatrice disguises herself as him so that she can collect dowry money from Pantalone (Kevin Lucero Less), the father of Clarice (Deborah Craft), her brother’s betrothed. She wants to use this money to help her lover escape, and to allow them to finally wed. But thinking that Beatrice’s brother was dead, Clarice has fallen in love with another man, Silvio (Glenn Proud), and the two have become engaged. Interested in keeping up appearances, Pantalone tries to conceal the existence of each from the other.

servant of two masters

Complications get crazy and the situations demand songs, physicality and loads of exaggeration.  This funny show is strong on Dell’Arte technique from the leather masks to the funny prate falls to the wacky walk, word play and zany sound effects and slap-sticks.

Among the standouts in the cast are Vanessa Hughes as Smeraldina’s Pantalone’s feisty servant, who is smitten with Truffaldino; Deborah Craft as Clarice and the feisty old man – Pantalone – the marvelously innovative and funny Kevin Lucero Less.  His work garnered many laughs.

But the Servant of Two Masters is anchored by the work of Omen Sade as the servant Truffaldino. Sade is a master comic deft at physical comedy, wordplay, improv and body movement. This guy is a pure comic able to endlessly evoke laughter through his natural talent and his dedication to the art of  comedy. Omen Sade is a young master comic extremely skilled and totally committed to his art. His is emerging as a major player in the Chicago theatre scene. His work gives zest as the zanni as he energetically leads the way. Servant of Two Masters is in good hands. Get to Evanston at the Main Street METRA station to catch Piccolo Theatre’s exuberantly funny comedy. You’ll laugh your self silly!

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: February 25, 2011

For full show information, check out the Servant of Two Masters page at Theatre In Chicago.

At  Piccolo Theatre,  Evanston Arts Depot, 600 Main St., Evanston, IL, Tickets: $25 for Adults,  $20 for Seniors, $15 for Students, call for group rates. Call for reservations 847-424-0089 or order online www.piccolotheatre.com, Fri at 8pm, Sat at 8pm, Sun at 3pm, running time is 2 hours, 35 minutes with intermission, through April 9, 2011