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Two Gentlemen of Verona, or Vakomana Vaviri Ve Zimbabwe

William Shakespeare, adapted by Two Gents Productions
Two Gents Productions
Ustinov Studio, Bath Theatre Royal, and touring
(2009)

Production photo

Shakespeare given the broad brush strokes of the inimitable performance style of South African Township Theatre was always going to make for a memorable evening.

Two Gents productions take on the challenge of Shakespeare's Two Gentlemen of Verona. Two actors, a washing line strung with props and an otherwise empty stage are transformed into the perfect setting for Shakespeare's fifteen characters and three locations in this spectacularly entertaining production.

The tone is set with the prologue, delivered bilingually and with an appeal that is immediately irresistible. Denton Chikura and Tonderai Munyevu engage from the very first, so that there is a tangible sense of the audience settling back into their seats.

The two actors manage the complexity of characters and scenes with maximum impact throughout. A scarf around the neck of an unsuspecting audience member in the front row becomes Julia, lending comic weight to the line, "See even now she persists in saying nothing". In a later scene, a chap in the front row hands over his shoes which take on a couple of cameos.

Chikura is every bit the "born entertainer" he professes to be in his biog. He peppers the play with perfectly timed anachronisms (from Britney ditties to David Beckham references) and ad-libbed asides to the audience ("Who needs a sex-change when you have a sarong? It's the African way!"). For his part, the charismatic Munyevu completes this irresistible double act.

But all this is achieved without ever threatening the impact or the reality of the scenes; indeed the exchange of letters between Sylvia and Valentine is here nothing short of genius.

The fast-paced mayhem is maintained throughout, thanks in large part to the captivating performances of the cast, making this one of the most memorable adaptations of Shakespeare this reviewer has seen in recent times.

Reviewer: Allison Vale