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Posted by : TimothyRamsden on Oct 11, 2008 - 10:58 AM Archive

by William, Shakespeare translated by Paulo Mendes Campos Prologue by Luis Paulo Correa e Castro.

Barbican (The Pit) To 18 October 2008.
Mon-Sat 7.45pm Mat 18 Oct 2.30pm.
Runs 2hr 5min No interval.

TICKETS: 0845 120 7500.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 10 October.

Shakespeare, and pure joy.

In a brilliant gesture, the long arm of the Royal Shakespeare Company reached out to Rio de Janeiro favela Vidigal, commissioning this Two Gents for the RSC’s 2006 Complete Works year from Nos do Morro (literally, the down-to-earth named ‘Us from the Hillside’). They’re a young, energetic ensemble, with a production that’s a fresh delight in its constantly generated invention and enthusiasm.

A prologue speaks (or sings) of friends parted and reunited. And as the company, from being a tight, silent group in a corner of the stage, burst into life they’re like friends arriving. So there’s an unusual sense of parting when, finally, their gracious segue from closing song to curtain-call leads them to reassemble in the corner, and disappear like dream-figures as the light closes down.

And what a dream. A chorus-like line turns into eavesdroppers or gossips; bare-topped women sitting on men’s shoulders become huge gateposts, following like a moving cityscape as characters walk and talk in Milan, where friends Valentine and Proteus are separately sent.

Human statuary confirms Julia’s answers to her self-questioning; ‘archers’ point imaginary arrows at lovers. Figures swirl round them, or physicalise relationships beneath the words. When Julia and Proteus part, exchanging rings, they’re caught in a shaft of light. The same shaft ironically recurs when she’s disguised in pursuit of her treacherous lover, and he sends her with the ring to Silvia.

Doubtless, were this Brazilian company’s performance in English rather than Portuguese (with English surtitles at times part-obscured behind two-tier cast moments), there’d be comments on the subtlety of the speech and occasional over-gestural style. But there’s always energy and reality, with none of the ghastly over-emphasis that mars some home-grown Shakespeare comedy.

And, while the ensemble is seamless, Mary Sheyla de Paula’s loving, unsentimental and resolutely resourceful Julia is particularly memorable, as is Diogo Sales, turning his tall, long-haired self into the dog Crab. Underlining or undermining his owner Launce, employing a full vocabulary of canine interactions, from affectionate-seeming nudges and existential wanderings to ecstasies of dashing and circling, it’s a wonder of invention. As is this whole joyous show.

Valentine: Thiago Martins.
Proteus: Renan Monteiro.
Silvia: Roberta Rodrigues.
Duke of Milan: Luis Henrique Rodriguez.
Julia: Mary Sheyla de Paula.
Lucetta: Marilia Coelho.
Speed: Aldino Brito.
Launce:Alexis Abraham.
Antonio/Outlaw: Sandro Mattos.
Panthino: Joao Andre Lima.
Thurio: Pedro Caetano.
Carb/Eglamour: Diogo Sales.
Host/Outlaw: Renato Rocha.
Outlaw/Ursula: Mariana Oliveira.
Outlaws: Micael Borges, Tatiana Delfina.

Directors: Guti Fraga, Fatima Domingues, Johayne Hildefonso, Miwa Yanagizawa.
Designer: Fernando Mello da Costa.
Lighting: Fred Pinheiro.
Music/Songs: Gabriela Geluda, Wellington Soares.
Voice/Text work: Cicely Berry.
Voica coach: Leila Mendes.
Movement: Johayne Hildefonso, Paula Aguas.
Costume: Kika de Medina.
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