I will admit, I was a bit nervous coming into The Two Gentlemen of Verona. I have not been much of a fan of Shakespeare’s comedies up to now, but if Act I is any indication of how the whole play will go, then I’m glad I’ve given Bill’s funny plays another shot. In fact, I even chuckled out loud at one point. An honest-to-goodness lol.
The play starts off with a pair of frienemies arguing about how best to spend their youth. Valentine says one should see the world and sow wild oats, while Proteus says he wants to find love. Valentine goes off to Milan to hang out with the emperor. After he goes, his servant Speed arrives, having missed his master because he was running an errand for Proteus. He was delivering a letter to Julia, daughter of the Duke of Verona. Proteus and Speed spend a lot of time comparing the servant to a sheep. Why? I don’t know. It was kind of funny, but there was a LOT of sheep talk. Like, way too much. With that out of the way, Proteus wants to know what Julia said about the letter. Speed would not answer the question because he wanted money. Proteus gave him the money, then Speed said only that when he delivered the letter, she didn’t give him any money and would speak no more of it. That was where I chuckled. It was just about the funniest Shakespeare has been so far.
It turns out Speed did not deliver the note to Julia, but her servant Lucetta. When Lucetta tells her mistress she thinks Proteus is a good match and then gives her the letter, Julia is annoyed that her servant is playing matchmaker and she tears up the letter only to immediately regret it. It was a strange and seemingly empty scene, because shortly after, we learn Julia has replied to Proteus and they’re both in love. The problem is the nobility of Verona have been gossiping about the fact that Proteus’ father Antonio has been soft in letting his son stay at home rather than go out in the world seeking glory. So Antonio tells his son he is off to Milan to join Valentine.
As I mentioned, I like the start of the play. I hope it keeps going this direction because I would love to laugh a little more while reading one of these comedies. I have no idea where it’s going, but I’m sure hijinks will ensue once the two pals are reunited in Milan. Can’t wait to see!
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