The Tobacco Factory in Two Gentlemen of Verona

Two Gentlemen of Verona has not a great reputation as a Shakespearian comedy. Someone once remarked that by the time you get to the second half, you realise that there are no longer any gentlemen in Verona. And, in truth, the artificiality of the plot and the contrived ending suggest that our Will was struggling with this one. How is it, then, that the current production of the play by the Tobacco Factory company is so triumphantly successful? Partly because it is so elegantly staged in the Edwardian period; partly because the young actors have such a mastery of the language; partly because in their movements and facial expressions they do so much to bring the characters alive. But most importantly it is because the director Andrew Hinton finds beneath the artificial plot an undercurrent of powerful emotions and he has had the courage to treat these seriously. Whether Shakespeare intended such an interpretation is beside the point. His genius lies in providing dramatic situations and language which, because they emerge from an innate understanding of human beings, are capable of communication by interpretation at different levels and from different perspectives.