The Venetian Twins

17 Nov

Ah, colour and movement! Give it to the groundlings. Provide it for the plebs. Combine it with a scrap of bread, and it’s enough circus to keep the masses content.

And what’s so bad about that? Does joy have logic? Does delight need depth? Does fun require an arc? The Venetian Twins is joyous, delightful and fabulous fun! It’s great to see a play that’s seriously that – ‘play’ful.

And now I get serious. (Oh, Veronica, you can be such a bore. Admittedly, you never rain on a parade, but must you always over think them?)

Mistaken identity is a common old dramatic trope. Because they saw far fewer stories than us, earlier audiences were quite thrilled at the concept of representation of identity. (It’s worth remembering that some cultures are uncertain as to whether we can do it at all. Or whether we should. There have been times and places where drama has been entirely banned. If you can’t see why, you haven’t seen it done well.)

But we’ve become soaked in it. We believe it, which is just another way of saying we no longer think about it.

But it has been newish, a novelty, and so it was played with. Having just moved beyond a theatre dominated by the stock types who inhabit commedia and morality, the idea of the unique individual had not become fixed. It was the catalyst to much speculation. (And Nick Enright and Terence Clarke’s take on the original play by Carlo Goldoni retains this potential to induce wonder.)

Mistaken identity is also (clearly) a great opportunity for laughs. Jay James-Moody as the twin brothers Tonino and Zanetto gives a brilliant comic tour-de-force.  Director Mackenzie Steele’s production bubbles over with laughter and song. His whole cast is superb and the evening is a real treat for both the eyes and ears.

But laughter derived from mistaken identity can, in its own madcap way, make us question identity altogether. How different are we really? How different do we want to be? Is there really a ‘real me’ that exists outside and apart from the wild confusion of life?

Mistaken identity in theatre is the source of much comedy. In real life, it’s the source of much misery. Too often we allow our invented idea of ourselves to get in the way of genuine connections with others.

But how can we transcend this obsession with the imagined ‘me’?

Seriously playful theatre might do the trick.

Veronica Kaye

The Venetian Twins 

By Nick Enright and Terence Clarke

New Theatre til 15 Dec

http://www.newtheatre.org.au/

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