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The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1983)

TV Movie  -   -  Comedy  -  27 December 1983 (UK)
6.9
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In 16th century Italy, two inseparable friends suddenly become rivals for the love of a noblewoman.

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Title: The Two Gentlemen of Verona (TV Movie 1983)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Frank Barrie ...
...
Julia
Hetta Charnley ...
Tyler Butterworth ...
John Hudson ...
Nicholas Kaby ...
...
Antonio
John Woodnutt ...
Joanne Pearce ...
Silvia
...
Bella ...
Crab
David Collings ...
Thurio
Paul Daneman ...
Duke of Milan
Daniel Flynn ...
Servant
Charlotte Richardson ...
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Storyline

Valentine and Proteus have been friends since childhood. The two are sad when Valentine must leave to work for a count, but Proteus is not too bothered since he is seeing the lovely Julia. Proteus' father, not liking the idea of the match, sends his son away to work with Valentine at the count's court. When Proteus is reunited with his friend again, Valentine introduces him to the beautiful and intelligent noblewoman Silvia. He confesses the two of them are in love and plan to elope. Unfortunately, Proteus becomes infatuated with Silvia upon first sight, forgetting all about Julia, and plans to betray his friend and his love to win Silvia for himself. Written by cupcakes

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Comedy

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27 December 1983 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

The Complete Dramatic Works of William Shakespeare: The Two Gentlemen of Verona  »

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Marvelous, if you know your Bard
12 February 2007 | by See all my reviews

The Two Gentlemen of Verona is one of Shakespeare's first plays (maybe THE first), and it is rarely seen staged, much less filmed. So this BBC production is a treat and a gem to anyone who strives to familiarize themselves with all of Shakespeare, such as myself.

And I must say the production enthused me thoroughly! The set is beautiful, and I am in prostrate awe of these amazing British actors, who can say the most incredible lines, as if these words had no other proper places than on the tongues of these very trophies of the thespian muse. Some scenes were very emotional, and the actors never did flinch an inch, but performed to perfection!

The page, Speed, was the best cast member (I wonder how old he was at the time), and I will also single out both Julia and Valentine for da capo performances. Proteus was perhaps a bit oafish, and a bit gay, but he, too, was up to the task and did not disparage the whole. I thought Silvia had a few slightly boring scenes, but 'tis no great matter. The "bit with the dog" (as it is called in Shakespeare In Love), however, didn't contribute a terrible lot to the story, I thought. Launce was a minor character, only thrown in to please the bawdry-craving crowd, but it's possible he would have appealed to me more, had he been presented as more integral to the action - and as rather funnier than he was here.

The way the language was spoken and enacted was very lofty. Rather too lofty for a comedy, perhaps. But the good people at BBC knew what they were doing: they were paying homage to Shakespeare's words, and as such felt obliged to focus more on the words that on the theatrics. A more frivolous staging might have been seen by others as less serious and timeless, and might forsooth have been so, if the comedy were not done very well indeed.

And as for the story; yes, well, we all agree that it is not Shakespeare's best. Nor his second or third best, and so on. However, is it not a preliminary study to the rest of his works!? Two Gentlemen of Verona practically overflows with thematic references to a dozen or more of the later plays! To wit: We have four lovers running afoul of each other as in A Midsummer Night's Dream. We have a woman disguised as a man, as in several later plays (well, it was a common Elizabethan theme, and would have helped the boy actors to play female parts without having to act like women all the time). We have a band of forest outlaws, almost as the Arden Forest refugees in As You Like It. We have a Friar Laurence like in Romeo and Juliet, and Julia herself is surely an early version of Juliet. We have references to Milan, Mantua and Verona, all of which recur in later plays. I dare suggest that The Two Gentlemen of Verona is not so much a play as a list of ideas for Shakespeare's subsequent comedies, possibly even written down for the express purpose of serving as cues via the which he would remember what to put into his more mature plays years later. Shakespeare was no fluke; he knew what he was doing.

To address the pivotal final scene with Proteus' repentance and Valentine's forgiveness; well, Proteus' lines do seem a bit brief to warrant such instant and total forgiveness, but I think the justification for this development should be expressed in the performance, by pausing the words to let the emotion in Proteus' face speak up. Or by arranging the situation and the scenes so that it becomes more clear that Proteus' regret is utterly genuine. This production did not pull this off in a convincing way, but I'm certain it can be done. It may be difficult, but I think it must be possible.

But, overall, a GREAT production! What luck that we have the BBC to bestow upon us mere mortals such absolutely impeccably and consummately professionally realized masterworks. My humble thanks.

9 out of 10.


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