(photo credit: .)
Take the sparkling translation by Nissim Aloni, whisk crisply with equal handfuls of imagination, wit and brio, rehearse to a fare-thee-well with a resplendent cast, and out comes the totally delectable romp of Moni Moshonov’s fresh-as-mint take on Goldoni’s (1707-93) A Servant of Two Masters.
The servant is the eternally hungry Truffaldino (Dror Keren). Master #1 is macho Federigo Rasponi, who’s actually Beatrice (Michal Blankstein) dressed up as her brother, whom Florindo (Assaf Pariente) – her lover, and not coincidentally, Master #2 – had killed in a duel and fled to Venice, whither ‘Federigo’ has also come to collect his dowry from Pantalone (Itzik Cohen) who, thinking Federigo is dead, has just engaged his daughter Clarice (Tal Blankstein) to Silvio (Yaniv Biton) whom she loves. Oof! From here mistakes and muddles mount until the Happy End.
Servant’s characters and situations are those of the commedia dell’arte, the hugely popular and mostly improvisational street theater that already by Moliere’s (1622-73) time had climbed onto the stage as scripted plays.
Moshonov’s production pays appreciative tribute to commedia, from Ofra
Confino’s nifty costuming through Alessandra Nardi’s deceptively simple
set, to Amir Brener’s deft lights, and above all to the richly comic
sound effects that replace the use of props onstage and with which,
militarily precise, gorgeously earnest, the actors coordinate exactly.
Honed over the years, Dror Keren’s comedic genius comes to perfect
fruition in his naïve, well-intended, increasingly desperate
Truffaldino. He’s well countered by the pseudo-worldly wise Smeraldina,
Clarice’s maid, sweetly played by Shiri Gadni. Yaniv Biton marvelously
milks his on-the-verge-of-manhood Silvio.
Leaning on an imaginary cane, Nadav Assulin also scores high as
Silvio’s dad, Dottore Lombardi. Itzik Cohen neatly exploits his girth
and his wig to create nouveau-riche Pantalone, and pink-clad Tal
Blankstein pouts, flounces and preens adorably as Clarice. As Beatrice
and Florindo – the butts of all this humor – Michal Blankstein and
Assaf Pariente do their bit with suave aplomb, while Ziv Kleier and
Jacob Murciano have great waiter/maid cameos.