New Village Arts Theatre Production’s adaptation of Carlo Goldoni’s Italian comedy, Il servitore di due padroni, certainly is a tribute to Commedia dell’arte, the old Italian style of comedy. It is, however, more than that. It pays homage to American comedy itself, with humor ranging from celebrity impressions, sophomoric names, pop culture references, puns, slapstick, occasional shock humor and even a scene in the style of a celebrity roast.
The production, adapted by Samantha Ginn and Director of Connectivity AJ Knox, is hilarious and accomplishes its unstated goal, which is to make audiences erupt in nonstop laughter from start to finish (this would probably be true if there wasn’t an intermission).
Set in what feels like an alternate version of the present, an immature teenager, Silvio Pepperoncini (Tony Houck), is looking forward to his wedding to the beautiful and scatterbrained Clarice Calzone (Amara Young). Their marriage is in jeopardy when Beatrice Ravioli (Eliana Payne), the sister of Clarice’s dead ex-fiancée Boboli Ravioli, returns to Italy disguised as her brother.
Making matters more complicated is the arrival of Boboli’s poor servant Truffaldino Gelato (Ginn), who decides to work for both the incognito Beatrice and Florindo Alfredo (Skyler Sullivan), who happens to be the narcissistic killer of Boboli.
The crowded plot is really an excuse for one comedic set piece after another.
Ginn and Knox’s (who is credited for translating the script.) writing incorporates improv, is silly and gleefully over the top. With the exception of a few jokes, such as a “Family Guy” quote, that don’t necessarily need repeating, the punchlines are consistently funny.
Other running gags, such as the conspiracy theories shared by Silvio’s father, Doctor Pepperoncini (Durwood Murray), and the constant misfortunes of the hapless Karen (Sherri Allen) are consistently amusing.
Ginn leads a cast of ten (plus cameo appearances of acting students with neuro-delivery and special needs in Ginn’s program, “The Mainstage Players,” who rotate in the role of a banana salesperson) with charisma and fast-talking and physical humor. She’s a pleasure to watch every time she appears on stage.
In addition to the very funny leads, there are also great supporting turns from Gerilyn Brault, Max Macke (dressed in drag and doing a spot-on Gilbert Gottfried impression) and Dallas McLaughlin. It’s always a good sign when each performance from the ensemble can make audiences roar with laughter.
Director Knox stages numerous sight gags, fights (Emily Dragon is credited as the fight consultant) and farcical conversations with a deft touch. His creative ensemble works with him to create a lighthearted evening.
Scott Murillo’s set, lighting from Chris Renda and David Romero Christopher and Keira McGee’s costumes depict a sunny and light medieval Italian atmosphere.
Songs on Violet Ceja’s audio, including “Mambo Italiano,” “We No Speak Americano” and “Con Te Partiro” play into the faux-Italian setting, while the upbeat carnival-style music of “A Fair is a Veritable Schmorgasboard-orgasboard-orgasboard” from the 1973 animated “Charlotte’s Web” movie perfectly represents the farcical tone of the play.
Funny and light from the very beginning, the adaptation pays tribute to all the things in American comedy that make us laugh. Ginn and Knox have come up with a hysterically comedic and entertaining Carlsbad production that should leave you exiting the theatre with a smile on your face.