The Two Gentlmen of Verona – By Brave Spirits Theatre: “Thy Budget Doth Not Always Need Affect Thy Quality”

Yes' a brief musical interlude

Last night DC’s newest Shakespearean theatrical company, the Brave Spirits Theatre,  opened it’s doors for the very first time. The play was The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The venue was “The Fridge”, which is literally located in a rear alley behind the administration offices for the “Shakespeare Theatre Company”.  This theater appears to be a large converted storeroom with concrete floors, some fixed theater lights, a small stage at one end, and fold out chairs placed in a U shape. But don’t let that fool ya.

I got there about 10 minutes early (DC Traffic Stinks), was kindly greeted at the door, and made my way inside to find a seat. There were about (Guesstimate) 25 people there, mostly in their 20′s and 30′s. And before I knew it the play was starting, out comes Jonathan Lee Taylor and Jeremy Lister in the lead roles of Valentine and Proteus. I’d seen Jonathan in several different Shakespearean plays, and he has yet to disappoint, always bringing versatility and a unique personally to each role. But this was my first time seeing Jeremy, who came across with a cool subtlety, followed by sudden busts of intensity, as the role demanded.

Busted!

A short time later there was Victoria Reinsel and Charlene V. Smith (Lead roles of Julia and Silvia) standing in the center of the floor, wearing modern dress and speaking Shakespeare’s words in a fluid and flowing conversation.They seemed amazingly comfortable with each other and the words they spoke, completely pulling me.

The plot moved fast and the comedy came quickly proving these smaller companies are a perfect showcase for Shakespeare’s humor. In Shakespeare’s time the Clown (Comic actor Richard Tarlton) was an acrobat and vaudevillian, he would jump, roll, dance, ad-lib, cajole and interact with the audience till they were belly laughing. I find sometimes that the larger theater companies feel the need to tone down the antics, yet’ David F. Zimmerman and Ian Blackwell Rogers had no problem following this tradition. They were showing off their comedic verbal wit, and physical acrobatics within minutes of the play starting, at times literally bouncing off the wall with energy.

Now I LOVE big Shakespeare productions, with period costuming, and huge budgets. But Brave Spirit reminded me tonight, with Shakespeare it’s not about the how much money you throw at the production. Shakespeare is about imagination, and passion, and a love for the spoken word. So do yourself a favor and check the Brave Spirits Theatre. This weekend and next week will be your only chance to see them perform The Two Gentleman of Verona. So don’t miss out.

Note: When I originally posted this review I mentioned that Victoria and Charlene were the first to come out and start the play, which they didn’t. I blame this on the fact that they are both so very stunning (Which they are, See their website), and I was completely taken aback in the same manner as so many of the Bard’s romantic leads. For thou shouldst know, in that small Shakespearean world in my mind, such beauty as theirs, will always be the first and last of all my imaginings.

Brave Spirits Theatre presents

The Two Gentlemen of Verona

June 16 – 18, 23 – 25
Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 8pm
Saturday matinée at 2pm

Tickets only $10

Link: http://www.bravespiritstheatre.com

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