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Play serves up physical comedy, romance, tradition

Susan Saccoccia | 2/13/2013, 8:35 a.m.
A scene from the Yale Repertory Theatre production of the 18th-century masterpiece, “The Servant Of...
A scene from the Yale Repertory Theatre production of the 18th-century masterpiece, “The Servant Of Two Masters,” at the Paramount Center Mainstage in Boston. Richard Termine

Each character has a signature tic that takes on a life of its own. Every time Florindo, a hilarious Randy Reyes, tosses his extravagant mane, a collective swoon ripples through the onlookers. When Beatrice stamps her foot to seal a command, it sets off a cascade of sound effects, such as crashing pots.

More kin to the Three Stooges than the Marx Brothers, all this is fun up to a point. But you may side with Truffaldino when, near the end of the two-and-a-half hour production, he asks, “Will this play ever end?”   

The ebullient, 11-person cast gives its all to the production, including its bits of improvisational surprise. As it did in Goldini’s time, the play makes room for local humor. Fodder for its here-and-now jokes includes the Patriots, mullets, Scott Brown and the MBTA. When, by mistake, Truffaldino pulls a switch and plunges the theater into darkness, he asks, “Did I get on the Green Line?”

Amid the humor is a sweet hint that beyond his chronic craving for food, Truffaldino also hungers for happiness. Smitten by Smeraldina, he shyly woos her, and declares, “You’d satisfy me more than all the food in the world.”

In the final scene, Smeraldina and Truffaldino evaporate into dancing fireflies and a crescent moon rises, a tribute to the disbanded Theatre de la Jeune Lune and to romance.