'The Venetian Twins' plays on theme of mistaken identity: Opening Thurs., July 25 and continuing until Sat., Aug. 10, the production will play in Moore Theater

by Debbie Lee | 7/23/96 5:00am

Given the recent passing of mid-term exams and without even the relief of a sunny day for Tubestock, you might think there is not much to laugh about at Dartmouth. Proving you wrong is the forthcoming comedy "The Venetian Twins," the drama department's mainstage production this term.

The production, which opens on Thursday in The Moore Theatre, promises to be the sort of summer entertainment that even the weather cannot spoil.

A comedy of mistaken identity, the plot revolves around twin brothers Zanetto and Tonino whose duplicate features belie sharply contrasting personalities.

Zanetto (Jonah Blumstein '98) is a clumsy rustic, unused to either the metropolis or its very particular ways. Consequently he goes awry when courting Rosaura, whose gentile sensibilities he sorely tests.

Tonino (Blumstein), city born and bred, has very different problems primarily concerned with disentangling himself from a scandal whilst tracking down his fiancee Beatrice. She in the meantime is busy shaking off the undesirable attentions of various other suitors.

Other characters in the play include Rosaura (Vanessa Pierce '98), a pampered child who feels the world owes her a favor. Caressed and dear to her father Professor Balanzoni (Tercelin Kirtley '98), Rosaura is disappointed when she meets the country bumpkin, Zanetto.

Her distressed mounts however during her encounter with the wordly Tonino, whom she mistakingly surmises is Zanetto. Tonino, in turns, believes that Rosaura is a prostitute and Dr. Balanzoni is her pimp.

As the play continues and the events escalate, the plot is pushed even further by a jewelry heist, anulled engagements, and even a poisoning.

The narrative begins when both brothers arrive in Verona in search of meeting Ms. Right. As each one begins his search, they unknowingly involve themselves in a tangled web of acquaitances and friends. By the end of the play, the actions of both men catch up to them resulting in a surprising climax.

Naturally when confusion over the brothers identities arise all havoc breaks loose resulting in a highly complex and elaborate plot which takes some ingenious working out.

The play was composed in 1750 by 18th-century playwright Carlo Goldoni and despite his enormous popularity and influence, it had been relegated to obscurity.

Three years ago it was revived by The Royal Shakespeare Company to outstanding reviews and commercial success. Since then it has enjoyed a good reception in The United States also.

A new translation by Michael Feingold is being used for this production. Feingold, a drama critic for "The Village Voice," will be at The Hopkins Center on Saturday, August 3 to lead an informal discussion about the play following the performance.

As is surely apparent, the basic constituents of a farce are all present, all but guaranteeing a very funny play.

Yet being dependent on a great deal of physical humor, the actors talent and energy will be tested to the maximum.

This will be particularly the case for Blumstein whose task it is to play both twins. All the cast will be called on however to inject pace and vigor into a play that could all to easily rely on its inherent comedy, rendering the production itself, stale.

The cast has worked hard over a relatively short rehearsal period to ensure this will not be the case.

Nicole Wiley '98 who plays Rosaura's maid, Columbina said "Going for rehearsal for four hours is more challenging than sitting in the tower room reading for four hours, if you know what I mean". Clearly an enormous amount of time and effort has been put in.

The final result is something assistant director Kyle Ancowitz '98 has absolutely no qualms about

"I'm pretty convinced this is going to be successful" he said. Describing the ethos behind the direction he said the aim was just "to go ahead and make it as funny as possible."

Though the play was written in 1750 the costumes draw more on late nineteenth century fashions. Ancowitz explained that this was prompted less by a desire for historic specificity than by a sense that this would be "an attractive look."

Attractive though they may be the costumes took some getting used to as Wiley testified: the women have been wearing "rehearsal skirts and practice corsets" to get them used to the change in posture necessitated by such restrictive clothing," she said.

The decision on costume was the result a collaborative effort by director James Loehlin, associate professor of drama, guest designers Sherry Lyon and Judy Gailen on costumes and set respectively and Dan Kotlowitz of the Drama Department.

"We have a wonderful technical cast" said Wiley.

Loehlin, who directed last summer's production, "A Midsummer Night's Dream," has created a 19th century set as the backdrop for "The Venetian Twins."

This is just as well given the complexity of stage directions and cues.

A proportion of the jokes are reliant on off stage sound effects "like when the Alleluia Chorus has to come in" said Wiley.

The set too is far from simple: Built on two levels and complete with a flying wall, Ancowitz said "its been a lot to swallow".

The play will open on in The Moore Theatre of the Hopkins Center at 8 p.m. Thursday, July 25, and will continue through Saturday, Aug.10.

Admission to the 8 p.m. performances is $9.50 for reserved seas $5 for Dartmouth graduate students; $3.50 for Dartmouth undeergraduates; and $5 for all other students and children.

Admission to the 5 p.m. performancees is $7 for reserved seats; $5 for Dartmouth graduate ssutdents; $3.50 for Dartmouth undrgraduates; and $5 for all other students and children.

Tickets and information about all performances are available from the Hopkins Center Box Office, open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., telephonee (603) 646-2422.