Summer Reading: Two Gentlemen of Verona by Shakespeare

Despite popular belief, there are a handful of Shakespeare plays that I have neither read nor seen–that is changing this summer in preparation for my upcoming adventure at Mary Baldwin College.

First on that list is Two Gentlemen of Verona. Coming into the play, I had some minor knowledge about the plot–something about love and betrayal–and had used one of Speed’s monologues as an audition piece (I know, bad form to take a monologue out of context and fail to get the whole story, oh well).

Anyway, this virginal reading it was a thrilling adventure. Goodness, Will packed everything into this short play–romance, betrayal, friendship, disguises, Robin Hood-esque hooligans, banishment, and much more. I regret all the more failing to see the RSC’s broadcast last year.

While reading the play, dismissing the betrayal and forgiveness as illogical was tempting, but I’ve seen enough theatre to know that the right acting and directing can make the most absurd situations believable, and I’ve lived enough life to know that life and people really are completely illogical rather frequently.

As usual, the drama is interrupted with brilliant wit and humour, mostly thanks to endearing servants Lance and Speed (both of whom are now on my “Characters to Play” list) and impressive constant punning that would give Kate and Petruchio a run for their money.

Once again, I find myself asking “WHY ISN’T THIS PLAY STAGED MORE OFTEN?!” Because it should be; it really should be.

As far as recommending it, well, if you like reading Elizabethan plays, you absolutely should. However, I much more highly recommend watching it, if the chance presents itself.

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