The Servant of Two Masters, presented by Fly With Us at Factory Theatre, is a modern take on Carlo Goldoni’s Commedia dell’arte play about about the chaos brought about from an opportunistic servant. The servant, Truffaldino, fools Beatrice – who is disguised as her dead brother Federigo – and Florindo into thinking he is a loyal servant to each of them alone. Things become hectic as he attempts to hide the fact that he in fact has two employers and two payments.
Fly With Us presents the comedy with intense energy. The actors leap across the stage with every comment. There is so much movement, I felt like I was watching a sport as well as a performance. The physicality adds to the ridiculousness of the play. For example, instead of bowing the characters squat, as if to show further athleticism.
If watching the cast is not enough to get you out of breath, listening will. The cast speaks at a sprint-pace. It’s impressive to keep up such tongue-twisting dialogue, but at times I felt like I needed subtitles. Cameron Cox did a great job playing the obnoxious but entertaining servant Truffaldino. Cox left an impression of a character that could easily allow his mouth to get himself into trouble, but at times it was hard to figure out what his mouth was saying. From regular talking to yelling to high-pitched screeching – it’s quite the work out for the ears, too.
Although it requires firm attention, The Servant of Two Masters is a fun way to spend an hour. The play is funny and the actors portray their characters with gusto. The energy of the cast gave me no moment of rest. I was thoroughly entertained as I watched the cast waddle and prance on stage.
The intensity of the actors may not be just a throwback to the old comedic style of Commedia dell’arte, but also a way of balancing between cast and stage. The stage is bare with exception of a few props. Instead of filling the stage with decor, the actors fill the void with their voices and bodies. The stage is subtle, the cast is not.
But who needs subtlety in a comedy? It’s a good time and there won’t be a moment to become bored. As long as you are prepared for the roller-coaster of a play, you will enjoy. Then you can applaud the vigorous cast and crew, and possibly offer them a protein shake after the show.
The Servant of Two Masters is playing at Factory Theatre (Mainspace), 125 Bathurst Street, Toronto.
Saturday July 6 – 11:00pm
Monday July 8 – 1:00 pm
Wednesday July 10 – 7:30 pm
Friday July 12 – 9:15 pm
Saturday July 13 – 12:30 pm
Sunday July 14 – 12: 00 pm
Individual Fringe tickets are available at the door for $10 ($5 for FringeKids), cash only. Late comers will not be permitted.
Advance tickets are $11 ($9 + $2 service charge) are available online at fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062 ext 1, or in person during the festival at the Festival Box Office in the parking lot behind Honest Ed’s (581 Bloor St W).
Value packs are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows.