Wednesday, May 5, 2010

REVIEW: The Venetian Twins by the Hong Kong Players

For HK$290, I can think of two hundred ninety better ways to spend it.

Last night was the opening of the Hong Kong Players’s The Venetian Twins at the Hong Kong Arts Centre McAulay Studio. This Australian two-act musical comedy, directed by Lucas Cox, is an adaptation of a 1747 play by Carlo Goldoni titled “I Due Gemelli Veneziani” or “The Two Venetian Twins”. Music by Terence Clarke and lyrics by Nick Enright, the musical premiered on the 26th of October 1979 in the Drama Theatre of the Sydney Opera House.

The crisp thin plot was about Zanetto, who had come to Verona to marry Rosina. Tonino, his twin brother was also in town to marry his Beatrice. Through a series of mostly second rate songs, twitching arms and legs; and amazing facial contortions, the twins (never to be seen together) get entangled with each other’s affairs. Inevitably, the musical finished with a cloying conclusion.

The Venetian Twins, just like most of the amateur theatres here in Hong Kong, tends to make the opening night looks like a technical rehearsal. In this case, the accompaniment was too loud in the first act (though has improved in the second act, was still loud) that I have difficulty hearing the actors, while the actors were obviously under-rehearsed. Overall, the choice of material was questionable, while the production lacked clarity and creativity.

In this agonizing plate full of sands, there were a few lumps of sugar. Camber Carpenter as the feisty maid, Columbina, stood out with her Carol Burnett-like charm. Hamish Campbell as the servant to one of the twins, Arlecchino, performed with amazing commitment despite given only eight days to rehearse. And Samuel Craig, as Zanetto and Tonino, finely balanced the two characters with sufficient differentiation to distinguish one from the other while maintaining enough similarities to explain the confusions.

My bit of research indicated that the manuscript and related papers of this musical are held by the Australian Defence Force Academy. Quite appropriate.

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At July 3, 2010 at 2:42 PM , OpenID marcellous said...

OOOOOOh that last line is terrribly cutting!

Honestly, I saw the first production of this (admittedly, in my youth) and it was a great success - but material like that definitely needs first-rate performers to carry it off with the necessary fizz.

Congrats on your blog, by the way. I, too, am going to Shanghai for the Ring and look forward to reading your account.

At July 4, 2010 at 12:44 AM , Blogger SATOSHI said...

Haha! It was meant to be cutting! Thank you very much for taking time out to read my blog. I really appreciate it.

It is amazing that you are traveling all the way from Australia to Shanghai to see the RING CYCLE. I can understand why people from Hong Kong will do that... but from Australia?

Australia had the critically acclaimed Adelaide production... were you able to see it? Well, here in Hong Kong, we tried to do the concert version... but even with that, we failed... Shanghai RING is my closest chance to see the cycle in whole. In fact, it took me only one day to gather 4 other friends to go with me.

Are you going to the first or the second run?


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