Theatre: The Two Gentlemen of Verona

****- Shakespeare is finally done well at the ADC.

ADC Perv Shakespeare Verona


The Two Gentlemen of Verona, ADC Theatre, 6th-10th October, Dir: Tom Attenborough.


When I go to see Shakespeare in Cambridge I have come to expect rather slow unimaginative performances with actors who think they are all that because they are acting Shakespeare in Cambridge but totally fail to make the transition from reciting the lines in costume to inhabiting a living, breathing character. Tom Attenborough’s ‘Two Gentlemen of Verona’ could not have been more different. I can honestly say that this production is nothing less than a triumph.

‘Shakespeare!’ I’m sure many of you non-eng lit students cry when his name is mentioned – ‘had enough of that wanker at GCSE!’ I sympathise of course but if there was one Cambridge production of Shakespeare that might dissuade you from fantasising about what you might do to the man if you were ever whisked back to the early 17th century it is this one. Not only is it superbly executed but it deals with a subject matter which appeals to us all. As Attenborough rightly points out in the programme this play is basically about whether you put ‘bros before hoes’ or ‘chicks before dicks’. So before you write Shakespeare off as being irrelevant to your modern, cosmopolitan, over sexed lives (you wish), have a mosey down to the ADC and give this production the audience it deserves.

Josh Higgot puts in an inspirationally hilarious performance as Lance, Proteus’ servant and general fool. He successfully manages to marry clowning with Shakespeare with real skill and reminds us all why he deserves his reputation as one of the best actors in Cambridge. Equally Joe Bannister and Joey Batey deserve special mention for their performances as Valentine and his servant, Speed. Their master-servant relationship was another jewel in this performance, witty, moving, engaging and all the other positive adjectives besides.  What’s more, not only does Joey Batey put in an excellent dramatic performance he also sings with a voice that would bring most women to their knees and has apparently composed the music  for the show too (which is also marvellous). What a multi talented chap! Tom Attenborough’s direction also deserves high praise as his movement sequences to the rather sensuous Italian mandolin and baritone music that he intersperses throughout the play provided a narrative aid that was both useful and extremely entertaining. Budding directors should go with a notepad.

 ‘Surely,’ you gasp ‘it cannot have been all good?’ Well it was all good. My only reservation is that it was not all outstanding. Not all the performances reached the towering heights of Higgot, Batey and Bannister. The beautiful Italian bachelorettes played by Katherine Press and Katherine Jack put in good performances but were dwarfed by the more talented performances. Likewise I am afraid to say was Jack Monaghan who once again demonstrated that he does not quite have the skill to be placed in the title role of such a high flying production. Although a good performance many of his speeches fell flat due to a lack of attention to the text and an absence of a really coherent characterisation. With an actor as experienced as Monaghan I can only put this down to laziness, it was a great shame that he did not put in the work that his co stars did.

That said this is an outstanding production and where I criticise I criticise only in relation some really excellent performances. I cannot stress how much I recommend readers to see this show. This really is what Shakespeare at Cambridge is all about.

 (If that hasn’t persuaded you: Katherine Press and Katherine Jack are sexy as hell and as a bespectacled, spotty looking student in the row behind me said rather louder than he intended ‘it’s worth the ticket price just for a good perv.’)