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‘Venetian Twins’ play sells out opening night

Caleb Bressler
Staff Writer

If you are a sucker for slapstick and swordfights or love a good sitcom then “The Venetian Twins,” is the perfect way to spend an evening this week. The play opened in the Rafter’s Theatre on November 8 to a sold-out house, and will be running until Sunday, November 17. The play follows the adventure of the twins Tonino and Zenetto, as they both visit the same city at the same time and don’t realize it. Unfortunately for them, their love interests are also in the city and are likewise oblivious to the circumstances.

Paul Drellock-Hughs (Florindo), Tasha Stoltzfus (Beatrice) and servant (Jen Trewhella) discuss the issue with Tonino (Aaron Dake).
Paul Drellock-Hughs (Florindo), Tasha Stoltzfus (Beatrice) and servant (Jen Trewhella) discuss the issue with Tonino (Aaron Dake).

Going right to the heart of the matter, the cast in the show was a strong one overall. Aaron Dake played the title roles of both the twins, using a pair of giant glasses as one way to tell one twin from the other. Dake was quite good at being versatile, as both the twins have opposite personalities. Undoubtedly, however, it was his portrayal of the ninny Zenetto which was his strongest performance. Dake’s idiotic faces as this character were quite amusing, as were his interaction with the audience. (At one point he grabbed a water bottle sitting on the floor in front of an audience member and mimed drinking it).

Aaron plays the twins Zanetto and Tonino (Zanetto above), and Paul Drellock-Hughs plays Florindo, Tonino’s friend.
Aaron plays the twins Zanetto and Tonino (Zanetto above), and Paul Drellock-Hughs plays Florindo, Tonino’s friend.

Michael Garland was another standout member of the cast as the character Arlecchino. Garland had a strong handle on his character’s accent and much of his cockney language, making him enjoyable to listen to and to watch. The character Rosaura was admirably played by Rachel Faust, who was not afraid to screech loud enough to shake the theatre. Of course, the list would not be complete without a mention of Jordan Donaldson as Pancrazio, who made his simple entrances onstage amusing. All said, the entire cast was strong and well-played.

The set, which the action of the play wound around, was simple, yet worked admirably. A platform, flanked by three walls, served as the centerpiece of the show. The walls were designed with nearly psychedelic shapes and colors, which worked very well under the lighting. Another interesting aspect of the set was the addition of two sliding panels which could be moved on and off stage. The lighting design was quite good, enhancing the set and stage admirably.

Florindo (Paul Drellock-Hughs) and Tonino (Aaron Dake) argue with Lelio (Jul Diehl), Dr. Balanzoni’s dandy nephew.
Florindo (Paul Drellock-Hughs) and Tonino (Aaron Dake) argue with Lelio (Jul Diehl), Dr. Balanzoni’s dandy nephew.

The costumes in the play were an eclectic mix of different styles. Perhaps an homage to the mishmash of costumes that were worn for plays during the Elizabethan and Renaissance eras, the varied wardrobe worked for this production. Some characters, such as Florindo and Rosaura, dressed in Renaissance-styled clothing, while others, such as the members of the guard and the doctor, wore clothing resembling garb from the Industrial-era. Dake himself wore a 1960s-inspired costume, (a nod to the 1960s theme of the set). The costume department did its work well.

Pancrazio (Jordan Donaldson) tries to bribe Rosaura (Rachel Faust).
Pancrazio (Jordan Donaldson) tries to bribe Rosaura (Rachel Faust).

Another notable thing about the production was that the audience was expected to suspend a substantial amount of disbelief throughout the play. Indeed, on the theatre department’s webpage for the play, they say “Don’t think … don’t analyze … sit back and enjoy it for what it is!” This disclaimer makes sense. For instance, the show’s denizens seemed incredibly willing to forgive other characters who had behaved extremely badly only ten minutes before. The characters also make life-changing decisions in five seconds. In other words, watch it with a heavy grain of salt.

The play was enjoyable, with a good cast and creative lighting and sets. Hopefully Millersville continues the tradition of producing plays from eras long-past in the Rafters. A word to the wise; if the first night is anything to go by, get your tickets well in advance just in case the show sells out the night you wish to see it. The remaining show times are at 8:00p.m. on November 14, 15 and 16 and at 2:00p.m. on November 17. Tickets are available in the SMC ticket office next to the Galley, starting at $5 for Millersville students. Senior citizen and student tickets at the Rafter’s box office the night of the show are $7, with regular admission priced at $10.