Two Gentlemen of Verona: A Rom-Com with Consequences?

It’s late May, 2019, and that means we’ve been working on our twenty-ninth season for just over three weeks now! Table work is complete, and the cast is beginning to put these scenes on their feet for the first time. So, I decided to check in with two of our returning actors: Jack Hayes and Douglas Peerless, to ask them about their initial impressions of this year’s comedy: Two Gentlemen of Verona.

Two Gents is one of Shakespeare’s earliest plays, and is even considered by some to be his very first work. At first glance, it’s your typical Shakespearean romantic comedy, full of crazy intense love, confused identities, and even a dog! However, this play takes an incredibly dark turn in its final few pages. Though this is often overlooked or glossed over in order to maintain the light-hearted tone established in the first 80% of the play, our director, Christopher Weddell, chooses instead to acknowledge the severity of the play’s final few scenes, and has adapted the script accordingly.

Douglas and Jack came up with the perfect analogy for this adaptation: Two Gents is like a rom-com, but with real life consequences. Here’s a snippet of what they had to say about the play’s relevance today:

Douglas: “It does take some dark turns. I think this is a fun play, with fun characters, but there is an interesting serious tone to it that I think even young people when they’re first in love feel sometimes. Like the sense that ‘this is the most important thing in the world to me’. It isn’t just like a regular rom-com where everyone’s happy in the end; there’s lots of betrayals, problems, and conflict. Real life conflict, which is interesting.”

Jack: “I mean, every time we do Shakespeare we say Shakespeare is relevant, and I think that usually is true, but when I first read this particular play, I was struck by how relevant it is to the #metoo movement. There are very recognizable situations and characters, but it goes further into the actual consequences of the tropes we see in rom-coms, like the idea that the never-ending pursuit of a person is the indicator of pure love. Our adaptation explores the consequences of these sorts of ideas.”

Douglas: “The way that the ‘gentlemen’ in this play act around women leads to consequences in real life that are very detrimental to society. So I do think this is a relevant play, because this adaptation makes an important commentary about the importance of consent, and how you should treat people; especially those you are romantically involved with”.

After chatting with Jack and Douglas, I couldn’t be more excited to see how this production will grow over the coming month and a half. Though sometimes challenging, it is so important to critically examine the tropes we see over and over again in popular media. What a gift it is when we are able to change the narrative, and create artistic content that addresses such important issues!

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Two Gentlemen of Verona opens July 4th, at Camosun, Lansdowne. Half priced tickets are currently on sale at The Papery, Ivy’s Bookstore, and at various markets! Click the button below to find out more