Distinctive amateur drama
in Northampton since 1932

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The Servant of Two Masters
by Carlo Goldoni

Newspaper photograph of The Servant of Two Masters

Cast & Crew

Signor Pantalone John Parkin
Clarice Jean McNamara
Doctor Lombardi Michael Green
Silvio William Ford
Beatrice Rasponi Phyllis Perkins
Florindo Aretusi Keith Green
Brighella Douglas Peet
Smeraldina Doreen Chapman
Truffaldino Geoffrey Brightman
Waiters Leslie Hutchinson, Stanley A Edwards
Porters Frank Scales, Michael Smith

Producer T Osborne Robinson
Assistant Producer Joan M Fisher
Decor John Bennett
Stage Manager Pamela Moore
Assistant Stage Managers Barbara Bowstead, Pamela W Pusey, Sibyll Norman, Colin Major
Stage Carpenter AJ Course
Property Master James Cumberpatch
Wardrobe Mistress Florence C Brawn
Costumes cut by Henry W Gascoyne and made by club members
Lighting Stanley Monk, Kenneth Drinkwater
Music John Phillips
Secretary of Production Joan M Whyte
Business Manager A Dyas Perkins
Assistant Business Manager Irene Mackness

Newspaper photograph of The Servant of Two Masters

Production No. 45

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Northampton Chronicle & Echo, 1950

If rain does not stop the play for the next nine days (the subject is drama, not cricket) there's a rendezvous in Venice heartily to be recommended.

It is easy enough to reach - a bus to Abington Park, a stroll across the grounds to the Courtyard, and 210 years have rolled back to the serenely sunny world of Carol Goldoni's The Servant of Two Masters. There is no doubt about it being Venice - this courtyard setting for the Northampton Drama Club's eighth open-air production for the borough.

There is a real canal from which two-and-a-half feet of line can fetch out a fish any angler would be glad to lie about, and when the shadows lengthen, lights pick out the traditional three archways into Venice's streets.

The Drama Club are to be congratulated for a gay and prankish romp that should delight everyone.

The traditional masked comedians - Harlequin, Pantaloon, Columbine and Brighella - are there in original humours that have no snack of the high-powered patter, smelling rather of wet towel, to which we have become used. This is original comedy vintage humour, whose progeny are to be seen in such vast range as Twelfth Night to traditional pantomime, and last night's audience from schoolchildren to grown-ups, enjoyed every infectious moment of it.

Production is by Osborne Robinson - courtesy of the Repertory Theatre - and it is indeed of high order with a set delightfully right against the soft, ironstone browns of the courtyard.

In this comedy we meet Harlequin - as Truffaldino, the servant of two masters; Shakespeare's slippered pantaloon as Pantalone, tradtional dupe and merchant; that sly rascal Brighella, this time as an honest if sinister innkeeper, and Columbine, who might be Liletta, Olivetta or Franchesina but is in this play, Smeraldina and, finally, the doctor, embodiment of all the foolish, pedantic professors in the world, profound in the law and letters and singularly unskilled in life generally.

The characters, with their own canons of behaviour, their repertoire of gags that have not lost a salty humour, are played by Geoffrey Brightman (Truffaldino), Pantalone (John Parkin), Smeraldina (Doreen Champan), the doctor (Michael Green), and Brighella (Douglas Peet).

All are vastly entertaining though the eveneing is, deservedly, Geoffrey Brightman's. His Truffaldino is an engaging rascal, as agile of mind as matter, his timing, tumbling and intrigues a constant delight.

Doreen Chapman, who so rarely fails, does not fail here, and John Parkin - very happy in a play where the voice of the prompter is not heard in the land, is excellent.

Michael Green's doctor, product of the University of Bolgna, is certainly larger than life, a flourish of fine words, and an accent that is less old Bolgna than old Baloney, faintly reminiscent of the lamented W. C. Fields. I thought his "poor boy" worth the money. The Bedford should snap him up at once!

The "straight" characters are attractive folk for the comics. Phyllis Perkins is a dashing, ruffling blade as the disguised Beatrice, and William Ford and Keith Green serve us delightfully as the gallants with Jean McNamara, attractive original of generations of heroines to come.

The business throughout is quite inspired, and there must be a word of the warmest praise for the waiting of Stanley Edwards and Leslie Hutchinson (old Yorkshire and the Welsh valleys at times). Frank Scales and Michael Smith, as two porters, share in the amusing "trunks" scene.

All concerned deserve the highest possible praise. If work and talent is rewarded they should attract the crowds.

I imagine Mr Parkin, by the way, to be wearing what must surely be one of the first wrist watches known - at least 210 years old!


22 June - 1 July, 1950
Courtyard, Abington Park Museum, Northampton

Page last updated: 26/11/2011 Masque Theatre © 2011

Jean McNamara, May 2008

In 1950, The Servant Of Two Masters was directed by Tom Osborne Robinson and there are several of us still around who were involved.

This was my second performance in the Courtyard - the previous year I played ‘sweet Anne Page’!  Michael Green, our previous president, had an important role, as did Doreen Chapman who, after spending many years working in London, has now returned to Northampton for her retirement.

The write-up in the Chronicle & Echo seems to suggest it was very popular with the opening night audience.  W.E.P., who wrote the review,  was a highly-respected critic who knew his theatre and you always rushed to read his reviews!

Obviously the overall production was inspired by Tom Robinson, who knew and loved both Venice and Goldoni and I was lucky enough to learn a lot from him about period movement and acting out-of-doors.