Brooklyn | 2h 15m | Already closed

The Servant of Two Masters

From 12 critic and 90 member reviews
Members say: Funny, Entertaining, Clever, Great acting, Delightful

About the show

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. More…

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. 

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


"[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

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

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

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

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

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

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


"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

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


"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

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

Delightful, Exquisite, Great acting, Masterful, Hilarious

See it if You want to the BEST physical comedy (& wittiest improv) in NYC. It was great to see Christopher Bayes' work after hearing of him for years.

Don't see it if You're a Republican. Many jokes at Trump's expense (I know the theater's s'posed to be a safe place...)!

Delightful, Entertaining, Funny, Great acting, Must see

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.

Delightful, Enchanting, Entertaining, Funny

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.

Delightful, Entertaining, Hilarious, Masterful

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.

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

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

Absorbing, Clever, Funny, Enchanting, Entertaining

See it if you enjoy superb clowning, ensemble playing, and great unpretentious showmanship in the commedia dell'arte style

Don't see it if you want something big, slick and precision timed....this is satiric, punny, and part improv

Delightful, Enchanting, Entertaining, Funny, Masterful

See it if You are a fan of traditional European theatre brilliantly realized.

Don't see it if you don't want to laugh.

Clever, Entertaining, Funny, Relevant

See it if you like broad physical comedy, bawdy jokes, political commentary, live music and juggling in a riotous farce.

Don't see it if you don't like bawdy humor or are a Trump supporter. Not for children.

Hilarious, Entertaining, Delightful, Funny, Refreshing

See it if You want to laugh and be entertained at a show that you might have thought would be out of date

Don't see it if You don't like Carol Burnett or Benny Hill

Entertaining, Funny, Hilarious, Refreshing, Clever

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.

Clever, Entertaining, Funny, Hilarious, Quirky

See it if You enjoy over the top comedy with modern references and random singing.

Don't see it if You are looking for the original script as they changed/ cut/added a lot! Or if you don't enjoy silliness on stage.

Delightful, Clever, Fluffy, Quirky, Slow

See it if You have any interest at all in Commedia. You will never see a more accessible, entertaining version of the art form

Don't see it if You are not interested in older styles. If there are faults to this show, they are all rooted in the faults of the style (masks,slowness).

Entertaining, Funny, Great acting, Quirky, Refreshing

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

Entertaining, Great singing, Quirky, Funny, 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

Funny, Great acting, Great staging, Quirky, Happy

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

Zany, Fluffy, Fun, Long-ish, Entertaining

See it if You're up for 16 century physical comedy with modern pop culture and current events improvs. Made me laugh for the 1st time in a week.

Don't see it if You don't like slap stick-y, slightly bawdy period comedy. Gets a bit slow and repetitive, especially the 2nd act.

Clever, Funny, Great singing, Great acting, Slow

See it if You like comedies with slapstick type buffoonery, the acting and singing were good,current political jokes,costumes,and fireflies cute

Don't see it if You don't like comedia,a little too silly at times, it should be shorter

Entertaining, Funny, Great staging, Uneven, Clever

See it if you'd like a silly (but not fluff) show. It's been updated nicely to reflect modern moods and pop references. Some jokes fall flat.

Don't see it if you can't follow a convoluted old (as in 1700's) style story. It's in English and mostly modern but still hard to follow at times.

Delightful, Entertaining, Fluffy, Indulgent, Relevant

See it if Great and fun references to current events and shows, very funny improv and writing.

Don't see it if You're a staunch republican.

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

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

Clever, Funny, Great acting, Great staging

See it if You like commedia dell'arte (lots of slapstick, some improv, relevant asides) with great acting and some moments of true enchantment.

Don't see it if You don't like physical, goofy humor.

Great acting, Hilarious, Clever

See it if You enjoy commedia del arte or just want to have fun

Don't see it if you only like highbrow entertainment

Clever, Delightful, Funny, Refreshing

See it if you enjoy goofy, slapstick type comedy with many topical references

Don't see it if you want a straight forward play or don't enjoy laughing

Delightful, Funny, Dizzying, Entertaining, Fluffy

See it if you are a fan of Commedia dell Arte: physical, broad, light-hearted humor, riffing on contemporary themes.

Don't see it if you expect deep meaning, nuance, strong plot.

Also All in the cast were strong, some exceptional. Performing this art for... Read more Read less

Raunchy, Funny, Entertaining, Dizzying

See it if you are a fan of Commedia dell'arte, physical theatre, crude humor and seeing actors improv on the fly. Great ensemble theatre!

Don't see it if raunchy humor isn't your thing, you don't like basic plots and stock characters and a lot of gags that don't always land.

Cast & Creatives (21)