U.Va. Drama Closes Season with Shakespeare's 'The Two Gentlemen of Verona'

April 9, 2009 — The University of Virginia Drama Department is ending its 2008-09 season on a classic note with Shakespeare's "The Two Gentlemen of Verona."

One of the Bard's earliest forays into comedy, "Two Gentlemen" takes a hilarious look at what happens when two friends fall for the same woman. When pals Valentine and Proteus square off as romantic rivals, they prove themselves to be "gentlemen" in name only, embarking on a series of romantic misadventures that test their friendship against their hearts' desires. The result is a classic Shakespearean stew that features madcap fun as well as thought-provoking explorations of the complexities of human nature.

"The Two Gentlemen of Verona" will be presented in Culbreth Theatre April 16-18 and April 22-25. Tickets are $14 for the general public; $12 for seniors, U.Va. faculty and staff and Alumni Association members; and $8 for students. Full-time U.Va. students can use their Arts$ Dollars to purchase tickets. Tickets can be ordered by calling 434-924-3376 or by visiting the Culbreth Theatre box office weekdays from 1 to 5 p.m.

Free parking is available at the Culbreth Road Parking Garage, located steps away from the theater.

"This play has everything needed for a good comedy," said director Colleen Kelly, also the director of training at the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton. "There are witty exchanges, physical slapstick, gender-disguise and even a dog."

There is little question about the Bard's central theme. The word "love" appears 131 times in the play and 20 times in the opening scene alone. "The play certainly invites us to laugh at the absurd behavior often demonstrated by those in love," Kelly said.

However, she pointed out, "Two Gentlemen" goes far beyond, illustrating the profound and lasting impacts romantic decisions can have on the lives of those involved.

"This is a play about the life-changing mistakes we make with our friends, family and lovers: the bad ones, the brutal ones, the ever-remembered-with-pain ones," she said.

As much as anything else, she said, the play offers lessons about character and consequences. "It is, in short, a story about growing up and realizing that our actions create our character. In this play, both 'gentlemen' live up to their character names. Valentine is wholeheartedly constant in friendship and love. And then there is Proteus, whose very name means 'changeable.'"

— By John Kelly