Jul 062010
Authors: Rachel Childs

Love is blind, fickle and hilarious in this year’s performance of William Shakespeare’s “The Two Gentlemen of Verona.”

On July 1, the CSU School of the Arts brought the show out of the cold and into the moonlit University Theatre for almost two hours of Shakespearean comedy.

Described as a 12th century “bromance,” “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” is a love triangle involving two good friends in Italy vying for the attention of the same woman. Love-struck Proteus promises himself to maid Julia, only to fall for the duke of Milan’s daughter Silvia, who is betrothed to Proteus’ best friend Valentine.

The players attempt to sort out their tangled love affair while falling into deception, gender bending and sword fights.

This year’s plays are held inside in case of bad weather, but faux stars and a waning moon provide enough outdoor atmosphere in the comfort of a chair.

“I have rarely directed Shakespeare before. My impression of his plays is that they are remarkably resilient to time, their themes remaining relevant to contemporary performers and audiences,” said Director and CSU theatre professor Laura Jones in an e-mail to the Collegian.

CSU theatre alumnus Judd Farner enjoyed being comedic relief in last year’s performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” so much that he tried out for the part of a sidekick, but was instead given the part of manipulative Proteus.

“This was a really different process for me because I’m so used to playing side characters. So this was my first big role for myself,” Farner said.

The University Center for the Arts is also playing the classic love story of “Romeo and Juliet” featuring many of the same actors, which proved to be a bit challenging.

Senior Ben Wasser, who play’s Valentine’s honest and clever servant Speed, also appeared in last year’s Shakespeare at Sunset, and said he enjoys roles that involve physical comedy.

“If you’re going to theatre or do anything with performing on stage or in film, you’re going to run into Shakespeare, no matter what,” Wasser said.

Sophomore Meghan Conner joined the cast this year and said she decided to add her own strength to her role as the Duke of Milan’s daughter Silvia.

The character, she said, was too fragile and by adding her own spice to Silvia’s personality because she’s “one about women empowerment.”

“I’m super excited that I got this role and it’s been really fun to play with,” Conner said.

All but six of the actors also participate in “Romeo and Juliet,” which runs through the summer.

“‘Romeo and Juliet,’ while it is exciting and fun to do to, obviously it’s a lot more serious,” Conner said. “So it’s definitely been difficult to switch between those roles.”

Two canine companions, played by Farner and Jones’ own pets, joined the players. Jones’ dog Indiana “Indy” Jones made his acting debut as servant Lances faithful dog Crab.

Jones said his family has kept numerous house pets over the years, including a dozen dogs. He’s never used one of them onstage before.

“But Indiana “Indy” Jones is perfect for the part because no special training is required,” Jones said. “The whole idea is that Lance’s dog is a ‘stone’ who does nothing.”

Shakespeare at Sunset is showing most nights this summer at 7 p.m. until July 25 at the University Theatre on 1400 Remington St. It is $10 for adults and free for kids 17 years old and younger.

Crime Reporter Rachel Childs can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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