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Wednesday, May 15, 2013


(Nondomiso Lushozi as Smeraldina; Simemezelo Xulu as Pantalone Dei Bisognosi, Holly Gxubane as Clarice and Josh Philander as Silvio. Pic by Val Adamson)

Thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining experience deserves support. (Review by Keith Millar)

Take a bow, Durban University of Technology’s (DUT) Department of Drama and Production Studies, for an absolutely delightful production of A Servant to Two Masters.

Everyone - from the 13 first, second and third year students who performed the work to Director and Designer Lloyd O’Conner and all the backstage and technical crew - deserves top marks. Their efforts resulted in a top class presentation which charmed, amused and thoroughly entertained their audience.

Carlo Goldoni’s masterpiece, A Servant to Two Masters was written in 1743 in the Commedia Dell’ Arte (Comedy of Art) style for a travelling troupe of actors. The play has undergone many translations and adaptations over the years and the version chosen by DUT was adapted by Lee Hall and first performed in 1999.

It is a hilarious, boisterous romp set in Venice. Most of the action takes place outside the Inn owned by Brighella (Lungani Mabaso). Young lovers Clarice (Holly Gxubane) and Silvio (Josh Philander) are hoping to marry. The only problem is that her father Pantaloon (Simemezelo Xulu) has promised her hand in marriage to Federigo of Turin. However, Federigo has been killed in a duel by his sister’s suitor, Florinda (Brian Khawula).

Then the sister, Beatrice (Zanele Mkhize), disguised as her dead brother, arrives on the scene in an attempt to collect the promised dowry. Shortly after, she is followed by Florinda who is still hoping to marry her. He obviously does not recognize her in disguise. Also part of the muddle is Clarice’s feisty maid Smeraldina (Nondimiso Lushozi) who would marry anyone who asks, and Silvano’s bombastic father Dr Lombardi (Farrell Drew) who is ready to trade angry words with all and sundry.

All this sets the scene for the lovable rogue, Truffaldino, who conspires to become the servant to two masters of the title. His farcical and hilarious antics, schemes and plots are central to the story as he attempts to earn double the pay and get double the food (he is always hungry), while at the same time trying to solve everyone’s problems. Truffaldino is a plum role and it is embraced by the very talented Sipho Zwake in a comic performance of rare quality. The audience loved him.

This production is wonderful fun from the start. On entering the theatre, the audience is confronted by the cast who are dancing and frolicking about the stage, shouting and greeting friends, and preparing for the performance. One is left with no doubt that the travelling troupe of actors is in town and ready to entertain. The set is a basic depiction of the town square where the troupe is to perform. The scene changes are uproarious and frantic as the cast stack wooden pallets in different configurations to represent different areas.

A  Servant to Two Masters is a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining experience and deserves support not only because it is a student production but because of its excellence in its own right. The show runs nightly at 19h00 at the Courtyard Theatre at DUT in Steve Biko (Mansfield) Road until May 17. Tickets R35 available at the door. More information from Lebohang Sibisi on 031 373 2194 – Keith Millar