18th century gets a modern twist

By Andrew Duff

A different world emerges when you enter the Stevens Building for a night of theater. The small group of actors greet you as you walk down the halls, the main character rushes up to help you find your seat and the quiet drone of the audience surrounds you.

“The Servant of Two Masters,” starring Joe Minoso as a frazzled servant named Truffalidino, is an entertaining tale involving cross-dressing, dueling and an incredible amount of mixed-up mail.

Though it was written in 1745 by Italian playwright Carlo Goldoni, the scenery has many not-so-subtle changes to fit a more modern style. The Player’s Theatre, sitting perhaps 100 people, is a cozy space, with no true stage and a whimsically designed acting area. The architecture, with its Italian arches and doorways, is adorned with hubcaps, parking meters and a large Starbucks insignia hanging above it all.

The play originally was set in Italy, but now has a Californian feel, with locations such as Venice “beach,” and some of the characters dressed in straw hats, sunglasses and sandals.

Set in comfortable reclining seats, the crowd settles down, the lights dim and the School of Theatre and Dance’s first play of the semester begins.

Starting off with an amusing summary of the plot thus far, the action immediately takes off when the actors go into a frenzy over a discussion of food, in which they all end up on the floor panting, or in the case of the young lovers – humping.

Though the number of actors running about the stage and the consistent shifts of story with its twists and turns of plot may confuse some audience members, one thing is consistent throughout: constant sexual innuendo.

From the opening scenes where the two lovers can’t keep their hands off each other, to the final scene where the heroine rips off her shirt, the play certainly pushes the limits.

Probably the most outrageous scene was one where Beatrice, played by Lucia Munoz, who’s dressed as a man in one scene, dives into her pants and removes a neon orange dildo, which she whips onto the floor.

While this angered some of the older members of the audience, the majority of the crowd roared with laughter, including one old woman who was so overcome with giggles she had to be calmed down by her daughter.

At the end of night, with a final scene involving a large number of flying rubber hands being thrown about, the audience left chatting about how much they enjoyed “The Servant of Two Masters.” However, most of the students who came to the play went for the same reason as Jason Dimer, a sophomore art major.

“‘Cause I have to for class … though it does give me pleasure,” he added hastily.

Many students attended the play that night for course credit, like Dimer did for Theater 203. A friend who came with Dimer refused to comment, fearing a possible failing grade from his teacher for what he thought of having to attend plays for credit.

The play itself comments on how silly the actors think it is to force students to come to their plays. A young couple sitting in the front row stormed out at the beginning of the play, declaring, “F— this, nothing is worth the credit to watch this play.”

So while “The Servant of Two Masters” is not a recommended play to bring your grandmother to, it is a piece for college students looking for a night out that most certainly isn’t Shakespeare.

Performances are running from Wednesday to the Sunday at the Stevens Building’s Player’s Theatre. Tickets are $7 for students. For information, call the Stevens Building box office at 753-1600.