This past weekend, the tiny stage in Buckman Theater transformed into a Venetian town bustling with vivacious chaos. Directed by Dr. Crystal Brian, Quinnipiac’s Theater for Community staged a production of Carlo Goldoni’s “The Servant of Two Masters.”
The play follows a servant, Truffaldino, who takes on two jobs at once in order to earn double the pay and double the food. Instead, he causes a series of mishaps that tangle an already complicated social web. The cast effectively engaged with the audience to create an inclusive and intimate atmosphere.
The set was well built, clean and functional. Audience members were whisked away to the play’s Italian setting. Various exits and entrances served the chaotic feel of the play, as the actors moved swiftly in and out of the doorways around them. The physical elements worked to complement the human performers without becoming distracting.
The entire cast was enthusiastic and well-prepared, but junior Christina Comizio stood out as one of the strongest performers onstage. As Beatrice, who disguises herself as her dead brother, Comizio effectively played the part of a character who herself had to play a part. She was genuine and funny, bringing life to the part of a woman who must deceive her way into a happy ending. Though all of the actors performed well, Comizio’s character felt the most real and her emotional reactions were realistic and well-timed.
This was an extremely high-energy show, and the performers never lost any of their steam. Especially impressive was the over-the-top enthusiasm of senior Gerard Lisella, who played Truffaldino. As the servant to which the play owes its name, Lisella spent most of his time on stage and never faltered in his ecstatic performance which engaged the audience and drove the play forward at an appropriately brisk pace.
A less impressive aspect of the performance was the explanation of plot that occurred throughout and served to recap the events that had just transpired on stage. Though the actor’s interactions with the audience were comical, it seemed unnecessary for a college show to stop and make sure the audience was following the plot. The explanations were odd interruptions to the flow of the play, as the point of the art form is inherently to show and not tell. This did not take away from the overall quality of the performance, however, and sophomore Nicolette Fino as the maid Smeraldina was especially adept at interacting with her audience.
To get a general public opinion, I posted an anonymous survey in which students could share their unfiltered thoughts about the play. Here is a sampling of some of their responses:
“Fairly funny but at times it seemed as if the actors were trying too hard to make it funny.”
“The cast was hilarious! Their facial expressions, gestures and interaction with the audience truly brought the performance to life.”
Overall, the cast and crew worked well together to create a generally pleasant and stimulating experience. Everyone involved contributed to a nearly seamless show, provoking laughter and applause from audience members of all ages.