Indiana Repertory Theatre (IRT), breaks its pattern of opening with an edge-of-the-seat drama and opens the 2014-2015 season with a comedy. Last year the downtown theater started its season with The Crucible, in 2012 it was the stark (and fantastic) Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the sensually dark Dracula in 2011 had everyone talking and Holes opened the historic theatre in 2010.
This year's offering for Indy ~ Shakespeare's, The Two Gentlemen of Verona ~ is one of the Bard's earliest works and tells of two friends who become opponents in the game of love.
If you have been loathe to sample, or reacquaint yourself with, Shakespeare, this comedy is good one to try. Friends go on their individual life's journeys and reunite only to fight over the affection of a woman. While Proteus, portrayed by Chris Bresky, and Valentine, played by Charles Pasternak, search for the loves of their lives, they find their own character and flaws.
Ryan Artzberger portrays the comedic servant, Launce, with Crab, his faithful canine sidekick (who received oohs and aahs throughout the show). Female love interests were: Lee Stark as Julia and Ashley Wickett as Silvia.
The laugh-a-minute comedy is a great addition to the LORT theatre's list. Solid performances by the entire cast are enjoyable to watch and highlighted most by Pasternak's smooth portrayal of the play's morally just character.
I must admit, however, that although this is a play worth seeing for any stage fan, it lacks the wow factor of opening shows in years past. When one sets the bar as high as IRT has done with its season starters for so long, to open with a comedy is ~ anticlimactic.
Much better to continue with grabbing potential theatre-goers and current subscribers with another by-the-throat drama. This one could easily have been set to stage somewhere in the middle of the season. Perhaps they will return next year to a schedule with an anticipated play such as one by Tennessee Williams (my hope) and set the standard high once more.
Bottom Line: Charles Pasternak turns in a flawless performance in IRT's season opener comedy, The Two Gentlemen of Verona.
Elizabeth J. Musgrave writes two magazine food and wine columns: Destination Dining and White Linen & Corks,and is a travel, features, food and wine writer, travel and food photographer, and performing arts and restaurant critic. Catch her as the Travel & Leisure Adviser on FOX59 Morning News Show. She also is a speaker, consultant and trainer for hospitality, travel and luxury businesses, P.R., and tourism groups, as well as a radio and television guest and host. Follow her on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook.