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Career > > 1970 > The Two Gentleman of Verona

The Two Gentleman of Verona

July 23, 1970 | The Royal Shakespeare Company
Directed by: Robin Phillips | Literature: William Shakespeare | Costume Design: Daphne Dare | Production Design: Daphne Dare | Music: Martin Best
Valentine (Peter Egan) sets off from Verona for Milan to see the world. Proteus (Ian Richardson) stays at home because of his love for Julia (Helen Mirren). She is in love with him, but neither knows of the other's love until Lucetta (Sheila Burrell) shows Julia a love letter from Proteus. His father Antonio (Trader Faulkner) sendw him to the duke's court to join Valentine. The lovers take their leave and swear eternal constancy. In Milan, Proteus finds that Valentine is in love with the duke's daughter and plans to elope with her to foil her father's plan to marry her.
Cast: Trader Faulkner (Antonio), Clement McCallin (Duke of Milan), Anthony Langdon (Host), Helen Mirren (Julia), Patrick Stewart (Launce), Sheila Burrell (Lucetta), Gaye Rorke (Lucetta), Edward Flower (Musician), Martin Bax (Outlaw), Peter Harlowe (Outlaw), Anthony Langdon (Outlaw), Allan Mitchell (Outlaw), Peter Needham (Outlaw), Gaye Rorke (Outlaw), Ted Valentine (Outlaw, Panthino), Ian Richardson (Proteus), Martin Bax (Servant), Estelle Kohler (Silvia), Martin Best (Singer), Peter Needham (Sir Eglamour), Sebastian Shaw (Sir Eglamour), Phillip Manikum (Speed), Terence Taplin (Thurio), Celia Quicke (Ursula), Peter Egan (Valentine)

Production Notes

Robin Phillips presented a modern-dress production of William Shakespeare classic play. Reviewing the RSC’s version for The Times, Irving Wardle suggested that “the play deals with a specifically Elizabethan contest between love and friendship” and, as a result, “it appears more confused and implausible to us than it would have done to Shakespeare’s public.” Certainly it has to be taken in the context of a Renaissance debate which often privileged male friendship above the demands of heterosexuality. This is why putting the play into modern dress poses particular problems: in our culture, men who address one another as “my loving Proteus” and “sweet Valentine” are assumed to be more than good friends. The Guardian regretted the “many visual and thematic inconsistencies” introduced by updating the action but recognised that they were done in a “spirit of affection” for an immature play. Resisting the temptation to broaden the comedy too far, Phillips had acknowledged the play’s “serious purpose” in a production that was a “victory of professionalism over playfulness”. However, Mirren proved a stumbling block for this critic: “…at the moment [she] shoves and pushes too much. She seems to overact at every point and must learn to allow the audience to come to her occasionally rather than rush at them”.

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