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MIRTHFUL `TWO GENTLEMEN’ IS A FEATHER-LIGHT LOOK AT YOUNG LOVE

SHARE MIRTHFUL `TWO GENTLEMEN’ IS A FEATHER-LIGHT LOOK AT YOUNG LOVE

Logic and plausibility fly out the window in "Verona," probably written in the early 1590s as a court comedy. More of an ensemble piece than either of the 1990 USF season's other two Shakespearean works ("Titus Andronicus" and "Romeo and Juliet"), "Verona" contains one of the writer's strangest assortments of odd characters.

First-time USF director Kathleen F. Conlin, who has a lengthy list of credits as a respected Shakespearean director, handles her assignment with a deft touch.

The entire cast is first-rate, with Marvin Greene (Proteus) and Dennis Ryan (Valentine) as the two inseparable friends who find both love and adventure - but not until after a series of mirthful complications.

Patricia Jones (Silvia) and Twyla Hafermann (Julia) were also perfectly cast as the objects of Proteus and Valentine's affections.

Two of the company's performers who got well-deserved rounds of loud applause were Ty Smith as Launce, Proteus' comical servant (who was nearly upstaged by his four-footed foil, Crab, a dead-panning canine who should be allowed to exchange his dog tags for an Equity card), and U. Jonathan Toppo, who brought down the house with his wimpy, lisping portrayal of Panthino, a servant of Silvia's father, Antonio (nicely played by Robert Clendenin).

This light-as-a-feather comedy is a pleasant diversion in contrast to the heavier drama of the epic "Titus" and the tragedy of "Romeo and Juliet," but its production values - like all six shows in the festival - are top-notch all the way.

-ONE VERY IMPORTANT FACET of the three Shakespearean productions that we neglected to credit in our opening-night review of "Romeo" was fight director David Boushey's precisely and intricately choreographed fisticuffs and swordsplay.

While "Verona" features more tongue-in-cheek roughhousing than flashing swords, there's always a very thin line between actors' safety and fights that look realistic. Boushey, who has directed the fighting in 43 different productions of "Romeo and Juliet," is the man responsible for whipping these key elements into shape.

His is one of those behind-the-scenes jobs that, like costuming, scenery and lighting, deserve their very own round of standing applause.