Open-air Summer Show



Distinctive amateur drama
in Northampton since 1932

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The Venetian Twins
by Carlo Goldoni, translated by Michael Feingold

Cast & Crew

Rosaura Alex Rex
Denise Masgaj
Professor Balanzoni
Ian Spiby
Brighella Rob Kendall
Zanetto Peter Lewis
Richard Jordan
Beatrice Rachel Bedford
Servant to Beatrice
Ingrid Heymann
Benjamin Dotan
Jeremy Smith
Peter Lewis
Peter Robinson
Kevin Pinks
Tiburzio Owen Warr
Rob Kendall
Ed Toone, Alex Duncan
Kay Warçaba, Elliot Bannister,

Director Bob Godfrey
Stage Managers
Helen Dollar, Bernie Wood
Janice Godfrey, Jean Edwards
Clare Brittain, with specials made by Pam Mann, Dorothy Granger, Chloe Metcalfe and support from Jane Roebuck
Stage & setting
Derek Banyard with Mark Mortimer, Ken Marriott
Gene Lenehan with Richard Walker and The Works
Front of House Manager
Ursula Wright assisted by friends and supporters of Masque Theatre
Refreshments Manager
Suzanne Richards

Richard Jordan and Peter Lewis in The Venetian Twins

Production No. 360

More images from The Venetian Twins


Bob Godfrey, director

Classic comedy has two essential traits.  It works off extraordinary situations, in this case the confusions caused by the arrival of identical twins on the same day in the same town, unbeknown to each other but destined to meet up with the same sets of people.   It also works off character often derived from some exaggerated trait of nature, exemplified in this play by more or less everyone.

The Venetian Twins begins with a row between Colombina and her mistress Rosaura and shifts swiftly from one comic confrontation to another. Twin Zanetto’s crude advances to Rosaura are rewarded with a vigorous slap to the face.

Twin Tonino finds himself involved in a fight to defend his best friend, Florindo.   Beatrice believes she has found her beloved Tonino only to be roughly rejected by look-alike Zanetto.

By a similar mistake Arlecchino gives Zanetto’s possessions to Tonino who, confused, passes them on to the parasite, Pancrazio, who in turn gets them confiscated by a Constable and so on and on.

The play offers a number of lessons about greed, false aspirations in love and the need to control one’s appetites.  It entertains us by its sparkling dialogue, its innate sense of the absurd and a dénouément that would do credit to a Gilbert and Sullivan opera.

The plot is arranged so that the Twins can be played by one actor, in this case by Peter Lewis who recently was Oswald in Ghosts.  He is joined on the one hand by Ian Spiby (Professor), Alex Rex (Rosaura), Denise Mazgaj (Colombina), Rob Kendall (Brighella) and Richard Jordan (Pancrazio) as all members of one household; on the other by Peter Robinson (Arlecchino), Rachel Bedford (Beatrice), Ingrid Heymann (B’s silent servant), newcomer Benjamin Dotan (Florindo) and Jeremy Smith (Lelio).  

Tiburzio, a jeweller, and Mine Host at the Inn are to be played by Owen Warr, a Porter by Kevin Pinks, and two silent policemen by Alex Duncan and Ed Toone.   Stage management is in the capable hands of Helen Dollar and Bernie Wood.   Street music and entertainments will be provided by Kay Warçaba, Elliott Banister and children.   18th Century costumes are being produced by Clare Brittain and a team of costume makers.   A traditional Italian stage and setting will be created by Derek Banyard and friends with lighting by the Works. Front of House is to be managed by Ursula Wright.

24 July - 2 August 2008 at 7.30pm (except Sun 27 July)
In the open-air in the courtyard of Abington Park Museum, Northampton

Page last updated: 22/02/2013 Masque Theatre © 2013


Brian Harrap, Masque Theatre member

I have never heard the Museum Courtyard filled with so much laughter, even in a house slightly short of full capacity; those who did not see The Venetian Twins missed a lot of beautifully executed fun.

Goldoni created his play in 1747, but with a smart modern translation, the years fell away. I was irresistibly drawn to the notion of a highly stylish Carry On on methedrine.

We found ourselves in Verona, with the spoiled romantic ingénue Rosauro eagerly awaiting the arrival of the aristocratic lover Zanetto who has been writing her scorchingly elegant love letters (written for him!) from his country seat. Zanetto duly arrives, but, all unbeknownst so does his twin brother Tonino, and so the confusion begins and all expectations begin to unravel.

Poor Rosauro, played by Alex Rex with increasing assurance in a descent from an Amanda Barrie-style simper to screaming frustration (one has to feel a little sorry for her), finds her life dominated by her father the Professore, played by Ian Spiby with his characteristic mastery of period style, as a kind, over-protective, somewhat obsequious, and increasingly rattled promoter of her interests as a future wife to almost anyone suitable. And the other party in domestic control is Columbina, her very earthy and worldly maid,  Denise Masgaj conjuring up a wonderful impish bossiness.

The Professore's chosen suitor is the somewhat dodgy priest Pancrazio, played with superb febrile, oleaginous panache by Richard Jordan, as if Derek Jacobi had been cast in a role intended for Peter Butterworth.

As confusions multiply, both the twins present themselves at the Professore's house, to be stalled by the butler, played, con brio, with much of the kindness and sophistication of a South London gangster by Rob Kendall, later to appear in the double role of local constable.

So as the action develops, the twins cross and re-cross the stage, complicating everyone's lives including their own; to the extent of leading to Zanetto's death off stage as the consequence of an unfortunate duel. And Peter Lewis, playing both parts, is a wonderful illusionist; he switched from the gormlessly gullible, lust-ridden Zanetto to the urbane, literary, prudently-passionate Tonino without a beat. He followed the tradition of Pennines for Apennines, Goldoni’s original location of Bumpkin territory to create the distinction, in voice, gait and attitude; George Formby and George Sanders. A memorable performance.

Along the way, we find subplots galore; Tonino's lover Beatrice follows him, but gives him up with a vampish insouciance, delightfully captured by Rachel Bedford. There is a major kerfuffle about jewels, giving Owen Warr a cleverly-realised (appropriately) cameo performance as Tibezio, the suspicious jeweller called upon to offer an appraisal.

Stalwart support, by Ben Dotan and Jeremy Lewis, Florinda and Lelio, lads about town, and Ingrid Heyman and Kevin Pinks as world-weary, and understandably exasperated domestics in the service of Beatrice and Zanetto.

And a special mention to Peter Robinson, who while needing a little more vocal power entered and moved on stage as a lightly dancing Arlecchino, that would not have been out of place as Harlequin in a full-blown Commedia del Arte.

The whole production was swift and slick, moving along at a cracking pace at all times, but leaving the audience time to draw breath. Bob Godfrey directed; he knows his stuff. All in the audience have him and the cast to thank for a great evening’s entertainment.


A scene from The Venetian Twins