Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 8.5/10
Cast: Leah Brotherhead, Garry Cooper, Aruham Galieva, Guy Hughes, Amber James, Charlotte Mills, Dharmesh Patel, Fred Thomas.
William Shakespeare is arguably the pinnacle of the English language, the most brilliant observer of human behaviour and the writer of some of the world’s finest plays; from Hamlet to Richard III, from Macbeth to A Midsummer Night’s Dream and onto Henry V and Love’s Labour’s Lost, all are instantly recognisable and charged with experience. Yet even the Bard had to start somewhere, even Shakespeare had to grind out an initial play that even in modern times is under produced, labelled problematic and one that even the B.B.C. in its infinite wisdom has shied away from repeating more than once.
It takes then supreme courage to take on what is heavily regarded as William Shakespeare’s first foray into the curse of writing for an audience of the 16th Century variety and it also takes vision, dedicated and open eyed clarity to direct The Two Gentlemen of Verona.
The whimsical tale, of unrequited love, of girls dressing as boys and far reaching consequences, all brought into the hedonism of the 1960s and radicalised just enough to make it appear and sound fresh, invigorated with groove and dynamism. The issues of the play still lurk in the background, the first tentative steps of the young playwright to be heard echoing down through the centuries and on to the Everyman stage, however, under Nick Bagnall’s direction, the echo was faint, the glory of the spectacle realised and the 45s records utilised as keenly as the message of the anti 60s colourful renaissance which was highlighted by the scene of overflowing beige and post war dull.
We all want to escape the beige to our own colourful version of Milan, for anybody growing up on the outskirts of the lively domain of Liverpool in the 60s, the happening place was to them as Milan was to the people of Verona. Nick Bagnall and his cast capture this dichotomy well. The enjoyable Amber James, being wonderfully stretched and moulded to take on three roles during the performance, was on top form and carried herself with precision against the nimble and statesman like Garry Cooper.
Arguably one of the more difficult plays of William Shakespeare’s to put on at the theatre; The Two Gentlemen of Verona however finally gets an airing that is both positive and directed with the glint of magnificence it deserves.
Ian D. Hall