Mischief afoot in Shakespeare/Harry Potter comedy
Story by Laurie Merrill
Photos by Slaven Gujic
GCU News Bureau
Ethington Theatre’s production of “Two Gentlemen of Verona,” which opens Friday night, contains so many Harry Potter references that it might have been called “Two Gentlemen of Hogwarts.”
Director Scott Campbell infused William Shakespeare’s circa-1594 comedy with a heaping helping of imagery, characters and magic directly from the Harry Potter fantasy books, one of the best-selling series of all time.
The re-imagined comedy enchants with elves, dementors and wizards who cast spells with dramatic flair. The scenery rotates between locales and includes Diagon Alley, complete with the Leaky Cauldron, The Apothecary and Flourish and Blotts.
The plot centers around two buddies, Valentine (Ben Tietz) and Proteus (Trevor Penzone), whose friendship is tested as they become rivals for the affections of the same woman, Sylvia (Amber Warren).
Many of Shakespeare’s stalwarts are transformed into non-human creatures, including Launce the fool (Tarnim Bybee), Speed (Bri Ha-Hguyen) and Lucetta (Devaune Bohall). Crabb the dog is in fact played by a real (adorable) canine. Even the still-human characters are garbed in costumes that harken to both Shakespeare’s original play and the wizards and witches of Hogwarts.
All-encompassing, heart-throbbing love is the overarching theme of this marriage of wizardry and Shakespeare, appropriately timed to run during Valentine’s Day week.
In one scene, Proteus talks of his love, Julia (Sarah Schalick):
“Thou, Julia, thou hast metamorphosed me,
Made me neglect my studies, lose my time,
War with good counsel, set the world at naught
Made wit with musing weak, heart sick with thought.”
In another scene, we see how love causes radical contradictions in Julia. Handed a note from Proteus, she alternates between a glowing happiness and dark confusion as she rips up the note, kisses the pieces, reads a torn edge of one and hurls the shreds to the floor.
“O hateful hands to tear such loving words!
Injurious wasps, to feed on such sweet honey,
And kill the bees that yield it with your stings!”
Proteus follows Valentine to Milan, where Valentine has fallen in love with Sylvia. Sylvia has a (scene-stealing) suitor, Thurio (Jeremy Carr) a match approved by the minister of magic (Kayana Sweeney).
Against all wisdom, Proteus, too, falls in love with Sylvia — even though his best friend, Valentine, has professed his love for Sylvia, and even though Proteus has given his heart to Julia.
Proteus uses a wand to try to remove his feelings for Valentine and Julia.
“Even as one heat another heat expels,
Or as one nail by strength drives out another,
So the remembrance of my former love
Is by a newer object quite forgotten …
“She is fair; and so is Julia that I love —
That I did love, for now my love is thaw’d …
“O, but I love his lady too too much
And that’s the reason I love him so little.”
This colorful romp through Potter-meets-Shakespeare contains a trio of characters similar to the Death Eaters, brilliantly costumed dementors (dark creatures who can remove a man’s soul) and wizards who use wands with dark intent.
And in the end, of course, all’s well that ends well.
First week: 7:30 p.m. today, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday
Second week: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18, 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19
Tickets are available here. Students get tickets free with ID.
Valentine: Ben Tietz
Proteus: Trevor Penzone
Sylvia: Amber Warner
Julia: Sarah Schalick
Duke/Dame: Kayana Sweeney
Lucetta: Devaune Bohall
Antonio: Cameron Cluff
Thurio: Jeremy Carr
Eglamour: Logan Barrett
Speed: Bri Ha-Nguyen
Launce: Tarnim Bybee
Panthino: Armani Randolph
Host: Becca Mae Owen
Outlaws, servants, musicians, etc: Brittany Ha-Nguyen, Gavin Harris, Jessalyn Johnson and Rachel Schumacher
Contact Laurie Merrill at (602) 639-6511 or firstname.lastname@example.org.