The two gentlemen are Proteus and Valentine, good friends who live in Verona. Valentine opines that love makes men foolish and plans to leave for Milan. Proteus pines for the fair Julia and wants to stay in Verona. Julia is coy at first but soon confesses her love in a letter to Proteus. No sooner does he read it than his father orders him to join Valentine in Milan. Proteus sorrowfully parts from Julia and they exchange rings. After his departure Julia decides to follow Proteus and disguises herself as a boy. Meanwhile, Valentine has discovered love in the person of Silvia, daughter of Milan's ruler. When Proteus arrives in Milan, Valentine asks for help in planning an elopement with Silvia. Proteus, smitten by Silvia's charms, decides to win her for himself. He betrays his friend to the Duke who banishes Valentine. When Julia arrives in Milan (disguised as Sebastian) Proteus employs her as a page and orders her to deliver the ring she had once given him to his new love, Silvia. Outside Milan, outlaws ambush Valentine. When Silvia flees the court to look for him, she is captured by the outlaws, but rescued by Proteus. When she shows no inclination to reward him with her love, he attempts to force himself on her. Valentine intervenes but bloodshed is averted when Proteus repents. Julia reveals her identity and Proteus swears to love her as before. The Duke forgives Valentine, and everyone prepares for a double wedding.Read more
Love at first sight is a guiding principle in director Jane Page's production of The Two Gentlemen of Verona. The play opens in sedate Verona but audience members are soon transported to the alluring amusement park setting of Milan. Here, amidst thrilling rides and games of chance, characters fall for and away from each other. A band of putti, cherubic guardians, watch over all to safeguard love's power. Adding to the fun, the clownish Launce, his canine counterpart Crab, and his companion Speed revel in hilariously idiosyncratic notions of romance. To complement Page's celebratory concept, scene designer Bruce Bergner has constructed a veritable fun park. Above the heads of the lovers a roller coaster soars, echoing the erratic nature of their relationships. Balancing the physical thrill of the coaster are brilliant banners evoking the games of skill on the midway. Setting love in motion, an illuminated Ferris wheel rises in the center of the stage. While the action remains in Verona, costume designer Maureen Stevens creates a strong impression of propriety. Julia's simple skirt and blouse remind us that people in this environment do not indulge in revelry. Proteus and Valentine likewise don respectable suits. Once the two gentlemen arrive in Milan, the audience sees color and more color. The lovers are transformed in the park's free-for-all atmosphere but Launce and Speed seem more at home here than in Verona. Putti roam the set in wings and diapers reminding us that, for an evening at least, love reigns supreme.
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