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The Servant of Two Masters

Members say: Funny, Entertaining, Clever, Great acting, Hilarious
77
Critics
66
12 reviews
Members
78
89 reviews
 

Theatre for a New Audience presents Carlo Goldoni's 18th-century comic masterpiece about a servant so hungry he takes on two jobs to survive.

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In this contemporary American adaptation, no two performances are the same. The actors improvise along with the written text in the commedia dell’arte style. Masks, playful costumes, and original music create a fresh take on this classic work. This marks the New York premiere of this award-winning incarnation of 'Servant,' which was originally produced by Yale Repertory Theatre in 2010 and toured nationally. 

 

Cast & Creatives (21)



Reviews (101)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
66
Avg Score

35
The New York Times

"While the production had some in the audience consistently in stitches, I found it laborious, arch, stuffed to the point of stultifying with contemporary jokes, and only fitfully amusing. Actually, fitfully is being generous…The onslaught of anachronistic references began to feel more like an act of desperation than like freewheeling invention, as if the director and his collaborators did not trust the material to delight us without continual goosing." Full Review

40
Theatermania

"The entire cast gives it their all in performing this thin yet convoluted plot, and that is part of the problem. The more you encourage them, the harder they push the comedy in ways that just aren't funny...Certainly, many viewers will delight in such gleefully lowbrow humor. Epp sells it better than anyone in the cast...Alas, even he cannot compensate for an overly long script weighed down by zany line readings and mildly funny sight gags." Full Review

80
Time Out New York

“The show takes an anything-goes approach via stock characters, one-liners, slapstick, masks, songs and snatches of anachronistic improvisation…Epp—a very gifted physical comedian—plays the dopey-wily Truffaldino…The energetic ensemble essentially throws spaghetti against the wall, sees what sticks, and serves that up; then it gathers the remaining noodles from the floor, pours on some cheese, and serves that up too, with a genuine smile." Full Review

40
Lighting & Sound America

"A pretty flat glass of prosecco...The jokes, at least at the performance I attended, rarely landed. Or they landed, all right, but mostly with a thud...Epp has a blessedly light touch, effortlessly bouncing around the stage and switching out personas like so many carnival masks. If only his material were better, this might be a convulsive evening. In a cast filled with would-be cutups, the ladies fare the best...It looks like a farce, it acts like a farce, but somehow the laughs have vanished." Full Review

70
Theatre's Leiter Side

“A beautifully performed, cleverly staged, attractively designed but somewhat hollow rendition...Bayes's approach is to return 'The Servant' to its improvisatory roots and to recapture the wild zaniness and madcap, anything-goes excitement of commedia...But everything here is so carefully calibrated that there seems little room for real improvisation...When it ends, after two and a half hours, you may feel, with me, that it's overstayed its welcome by an hour.” Full Review

95
Theater Pizzazz

"A wondrous thing, a campy, happy romp just perfect for a New York City beset with feelings of dread…Of course, it’s not the silly plot, but the execution of it that counts and these actors pour everything they have into bringing these characters to life…This is a production that should move to Broadway. It is, by far, the most entertaining show in New York City and deserves to be seen." Full Review

65
CurtainUp

"Farce is a polarizing form of entertainment...The cast of classically trained actors engage in energetic slapstick...In the tradition of commedia dell’arte, many jokes are risque...The proceedings close in a manner as picturesque as the beginning: an outsize crescent moon rises over a wild goose chase involving 11 actors and all the aisles of the orchestra section. For people who like farce, all of this is heavenly stuff. For those in the anti-farce camp, it's likely to be torture." Full Review

90
scribicide

"[T]he jokes come as rapidly as machine-gun fire; if you don't like one, no need to worry, since six more have been made in the time it took you to hear the first. Chances are you'll find enough of them funny to laugh continuously for the play's two and a half hours." Full Review

90
Off Off Online

"There is much to laugh about in TFANA’s production of Carlo Goldoni’s raucously entertaining farce, and boy, do we laugh. Every formula for comedy is either turned on its head or played to its full predictive hilarity…’The Servant of Two Masters’ stands firmly on Epp’s rollicking intelligence and the comic strengths of the cast. For the jaded theatergoer, TFANA’s production provides all the things the wearied mind desires: longing, love, song, dance and the simple beauty of laughter." Full Review

80
New York Theatre Review

"Laugh you will...Jokes are shot out like machine-gun fire from the performers of this piece...Even at these moments when the jokes miss their mark, the performers and the plot move along and the audience runs along beside them...A great deal of the piece is meticulously rehearsed and planned and is as finely tuned and breathtaking as any Abbott and Costello routine." Full Review

85
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

"Director Christopher Bayes and actor Steven Epp in the lead role of Truffaldino make this commedia dell'arte work, which was written by Carlo Goldoni in the 1740s, come alive with hilarious, rowdy energy...The play has been larded with up-to-the-minute jokes...Epp is supremely gifted with physical comedy — a.k.a. clowning — which is a good thing since he can't make faces to be funny...Bayes is also an expert on clowning...The cast is full of talented comic actors." Full Review

80
Brooklyn Paper

"The gonzo glee of the performances holds it all together; director Christopher Bayes has done wonderful work with the ensemble. The pacing, as befits classic farce, is blindingly fast…Some of the slapstick bits are screamingly funny…'Servant of Two Masters' is thoroughly enjoyable and deliriously well-performed, though ultimately fairly disposable. I laughed in a lot of spots, and while the whole thing doesn’t add up to more than goofy fun, sometimes that is just what you need." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
78
Avg Score

52
Dizzying, Banal, Disappointing, Cliched, Dated

See it if u like to see frenetic, throw-everything- see-what-sticks theater w/ many groaner jokes, puns & topical name droppings. Cast works v/ hard.

Don't see it if I left at the intermission (rare for me), I just couldn't take 45 more minutes of this busy, bright, empty thing. Loved ONE MAN,TWO GUVNORS.

64
Funny, Disappointing, Cliched, Fluffy, Manic

See it if you want to see what Comedia Del' Arte is like; largely improvised and frantic. Acting is good, just didn't like it-can't put finger on why

Don't see it if don't like improvised comedy; want a good plot

70
Slapstick, Goofy, Improvisational, Intentionally ridiculous

See it if you like British panto, that's exactly what this is. Pure goofy fun. It took me 40 min to get on the ride; Brit spouse laughed from get-go

Don't see it if you are sober (jk - almost); hoping for a serious, thought-provoking or consequential night out; don't like slapstick or cringe-worthy humor

80
Entertaining, Great singing, Self-indulgent, Overwrought, Very funny

See it if you're up for a refreshingly silly fast paced romp by a sharp ensemble in a too-long Commedia update marred by too many cheap election jokes

Don't see it if you've lost all sense of wonder or childhood, hate farce, buffoonery (at least onstage) or earthy humor that's universal and timeless.

Also There's more than a bit of magic in this production—the wonder that co... Read more Read less

88
Funny, Clever, Refreshing, Hilarious, Entertaining

See it if you enjoy comedy. Epp is a master clown. Show runs like a Swiss clock after many productions with the cast.

Don't see it if Grumpy Gus is your nickname. Easy to satisfy an audience after one act, so leaving is not unusual.

86
Funny, Great acting, Quirky, Refreshing, Entertaining

See it if you like commedia dell'arte, broad comedy, meta comedy, improv, and live music.

Don't see it if you want a serious, scripted play with a lot of character development or plot. There are scripted moments, but a fair amount of improv also

64
Raunchy, Too long, Slapstick, Well executed, Some strong performances

See it if You enjoy Slapstick & follow the genre or appreciate new interpretations of this specific play

Don't see it if You get restless with physical humor, you want more narrative than folly

50
Commedia dell' arte, if you like that kind of thing

See it if You enjoy coarse broad jokes, and are easily amused. It is 18th century humor with tons of current references.

Don't see it if You have more subtle tastes, perhaps don't care for humor at all. Certainly Trump fans, unlike me, might have issues.

96
Funny, Delightful, Great acting, Must see, Entertaining

See it if A classic comedy that sported One Man Two Governors. An extraordinary cast that are minute perfect.

Don't see it if Your a sour puss and don't want to travel to a theatre around the corner from BAM.

95
Delightful, Masterful, Hilarious, Entertaining

See it if you want to see a brilliantly & rarely performed 18th century farce performed in the Italian "Commedia' style with pop culture references.

Don't see it if you don't enjoy 18th century Italian farce performed by a hardworking and talented cast of actors who have the style down to a science.

78
Funny, Great acting, Refreshing, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if So great to be able to laugh at this romp with excellent ensemble acting headed by Steven Epp. Should have been trimmed and shortened .

Don't see it if If knockabout comedy is not your thing.

96
Funny, Delightful, Enchanting, Entertaining

See it if You enjoy a very funny story, terrific acting, improvisation and laughing. A welcome respite fromthe gloom. . Well deserved ovation.

Don't see it if You only like serious drama. The New York Times review is so off mark - as if Isherwood was at another play.

93
Great acting, Masterful, Must see, Hilarious, Great staging

See it if You have a funny bone.

Don't see it if You're looking for something profound

Also I don't know how some reviewers scored this show so low. Maybe a week ... Read more Read less

77
Funny, Ambitious, Great acting, Quirky, Hilarious

See it if You want to know what commedia dell'arte is all about. And like to laugh at actors having fun on stage with some very funny material.

Don't see it if You can't stand the idea of modern commentary and jokes being added to the skit like nature of this play.

Also Also, don't see this one if you don't like seeing actors laugh at them... Read more Read less

55
Disappointing, Overrated, Great staging, Fluffy, Silly

See it if you enjoy cheap sight gags and classic plays that are updated with topical jokes.

Don't see it if you want to see anything profound or consistently funny.

78
Funny, Clever, Entertaining, Too long, Great staging

See it if you are able to enjoy pure silliness, executed by skillful actors, just for the purpose of entertainment.

Don't see it if you don't like Commedia dell'Arte and/or contemporary ad-libs.

Also Would be better at 90 minutes, no intermission. Start by cutting half ... Read more Read less

68
Funny, Ambitious, Entertaining, Over-the-top, Silly

See it if you want to see an energetic cast give their all in a well-staged commedia dell'arte. Following tradition, this is silly & improvisational.

Don't see it if as the NYTimes (a victim of much ridicule throughout) points out, you'll find the non-stop modern references increasingly dumb & insulting.

46
Quirky, Disappointing, Cliched, Insipid, Slow

See it if You like silly, slapstick humor like The Three Stooges. Honestly I walked out at intermission, so maybe the second act was better?

Don't see it if You find repetitive, anachronistic humor amusing.

77
Funny, Dizzying, Quirky, Slap stick

See it if you enjoy physical, broad comedy. Topical references fun but a bit repetitive. Much better than NY Times review would have you believe.

Don't see it if you don't like commedia dell'arte or prefer more serious theater.

77
Delightful, Raunchy, Refreshing, Hilarious

See it if You want a good time with every cliche in the book done by master's of the art form

Don't see it if You don't like commedia and want to avoid smiling

75
Clever, Delightful, Dizzying, Enchanting, Entertaining

See it if You like absurdist comedies with brilliant acting and a lot going on. A wonderfully told stories by stellar actors who really get into it.

Don't see it if You don't enjoy the breaking of the fourth wall, raunchy humor, sometimes over played jokes, and basic all around silliness.

83
Happy, Funny, Great acting, Quirky, Great staging

See it if You like to see a silly play and be happy! The cast is energetic and the storyline is ridiculous, but the actors and the audience loved it!!

Don't see it if You want the original play and dislike a classic being changed with current lines to fit today's circumstances;are a prude

Also Steven Epp's performance as the Servant is outstanding. The critics ma... Read more Read less

75
Great acting, Dated, Entertaining, Great singing, Great staging

See it if You love or are interested in Commedia dell'arte; and love slapstick comedy

Don't see it if You can't overlook a slow and dated story, sometimes lame contemporary jokes for the beauty of staging, costumes, live music & great acting

86
Funny, Quirky, Entertaining, Great singing, Energetic

See it if You want light and funny. You don't mind a lot of movement on and off stage. You like slap stick comedy. You want to laugh and enjoy silly.

Don't see it if You want something deep and moving. You don't like slap stick comedy. You are not open to something different. You are too serious.

Also Although everything was not gut busting funny I was thoroughly enterta... Read more Read less

51
Raunchy, Disappointing, Hilarious, Entertaining, Fluffy

See it if You want to spend two hours watching commedia dell'arte ( on steroids )

Don't see it if You like the "real " commedia dell'arte without useless distractions ( although the last two minutes are kind of worth the ticket price )