A scheming servant, forbidden lovers and mistaken identities are the driving forces in the madcap comedy “The Servant of Two Masters,” playing Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Cuesta College’s Cultural and Performing Arts Center.
The play is directed by Don Stewart, an instructor for the Cuesta College Drama Department. This is Stewart’s third time directing and adapting “The Servant of Two Masters,” having worked on productions at Nipomo High School and Ark Theatre Company in Los Angeles.
He enjoys the playful tone of the play.
“This is a fun evening of theater,” Stewart said, noting that each performance is different because of audience participation. “It is pure escapism.”
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Written by Italian playwright Carlo Goldoni in 1746, “The Servant of Two Masters” includes sections for improvisation and masked stock characters.
In Cuesta’s production, creative makeup replaces the traditional masks. Stewart uses improvisation to build a collaborative ensemble and create a fun atmosphere.
“The Servant of Two Masters” opens in Venice, Italy, with the engagement celebration of Clarice (Kylee Riddle), daughter of Signora Pantalone (Beth Marshall), to Silvio (Quentin Montoya), son of Dr. Lombardi (Debora Schwarz).
The party is interrupted by zany servant Truffaldino (Tony Costa), who announces the arrival of his master, Federigo Rasponi. This shocks everyone since Federigo was supposedly killed in a duel with Florindo (Josh Riker), defending his sister’s honor. Clarice had been betrothed to the slain fiancé but now loves Silvio.
Meanwhile, Beatrice (Sydney Moran), sister of Federigo, has disguised herself as her dead brother to collect the dowry from Pantalone. She hopes to use the money to find Florindo, her lover, and marry him.
Florindo, who has escaped to Venice, has also engaged Truffaldino as his servant. Always hungry, Truffaldino strives to juggle the two masters with the ultimate goal of satisfying his insatiable lust for food. During this hilarious balancing act, the servant becomes smitten with Clarice’s maid, Smeraldina (Karess Wright).
Through a series of comic mishaps and spirited misunderstandings, love becomes the defining catalyst to bring all the characters together.
The supporting cast includes Brighella (Reid Perkins), Porter (David Newton), Danzatino (Timothy Barrera), and Quaglino (JP Torres).
The creative team consists of costume designer bree valle, scenic and lighting designer Richard Jackson and production stage manager Jessica Wright.
In “The Servant of Two Masters,” student actors effectively weave pop culture and current events into a delightful 18th-century farce. There is an abundance of energy, physical gags and rowdiness that will fill audience members with broad smiles and hearty laughter.
Stewart said the play “celebrates our differences and is filled with positivity and hope.”