‘Servant of Two Masters’: A dinosaur-free summer romp, under the stars in Morris Township

THE SERVANT OF TWO MASTERS by Bonnie J. Monte, translated and adapted from the play by Carlo Goldoni. The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, 2018. Directed by Doug West. From left: Izzie Steele as Beatrice Risponi and James Michael Reilly as Truffaldino. Photo: Jerry Dalia.
THE SERVANT OF TWO MASTERS by Bonnie J. Monte, translated and adapted from the play by Carlo Goldoni. The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, 2018. Directed by Doug West. From left: Izzie Steele as Beatrice Risponi and James Michael Reilly as Truffaldino. Photo: Jerry Dalia.
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Looking for fast and furious escapist fun on a summer’s eve?

Sure, you could root for a bunch of computer-generated dinosaurs to eat Hollywood’s cloying idea of children. Again.

But for live thrills — spiced with healthy dollops of humor–it’s not necessary to subject yourself to anything Jurassic. You only need to time-travel to 1746.

THE SERVANT OF TWO MASTERS by Bonnie J. Monte, translated and adapted from the play by Carlo Goldoni. The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, 2018. Directed by Doug West. (L-R): James Michael Reilly as Truffaldino, Miranda Rizzolo as Clarice, and Russell Sperberg as Silvio. Photo: Jerry Dalia.
THE SERVANT OF TWO MASTERS by Bonnie J. Monte, translated and adapted from the play by Carlo Goldoni. The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, 2018. Directed by Doug West. (L-R): James Michael Reilly as Truffaldino, Miranda Rizzolo as Clarice, and Russell Sperberg as Silvio. Photo: Jerry Dalia.

The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey is happy to transport you there, to Carlo Goldoni’s Venice, lovingly re-created in the amphitheater of the College of Saint Elizabeth in Morris Township.

The Servant of Two Masters is ready for your air-conditioned enjoyment, through July 29, 2018. 

Mother Nature conditions the air. Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte has updated the script of this comedy of cunning connivers, and it’s whipped into shape by Director Doug West, whose deft touch made It’s a Wonderful Life: A Radio Play such a delightful stocking stuffer back in December.

Servant shines thanks to two characters: Truffaldino, and you.

James Michael Reilly, a veteran of 25 seasons at the Shakespeare Theatre, is agile and adorable as Truffaldino, a servant whose too-clever quests for a good meal nearly land him in the soup.

Like most of us, he attempts to serve two masters. The difference is, his masters are staying in the same villa, unbeknownst to each other, and Truffaldino is trying to keep it that way.

In one extended madcap sequence, he scrambles to serve dinner to both bosses at the same time without blowing his cover. Do not blink!

Although this play premiered when George Washington was a young man, it’s more interactive than many modern entertainments.

Reilly and the rest of the superb cast treat the audience as their confidant.  You are in on predicaments that confound the players; the byplay keeps you on the edge of your beach chair for the entire two-hour romp.

THE SERVANT OF TWO MASTERS by Bonnie J. Monte, translated and adapted from the play by Carlo Goldoni. The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, 2018. Directed by Doug West. L-R: Russell Sperberg as Silvio and Raphael Nash Thompson as Dottore Lombardi. Photo: Jerry Dalia.
THE SERVANT OF TWO MASTERS by Bonnie J. Monte, translated and adapted from the play by Carlo Goldoni. The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, 2018. Directed by Doug West. L-R: Russell Sperberg as Silvio and Raphael Nash Thompson as Dottore Lombardi. Photo: Jerry Dalia.

Don’t worry if you can’t follow all the romantic entanglements.

Actress Izzie Steele, portraying Beatrice Risponi posing as a man (Federigo Risponi) who gets betrothed to a woman (Miranda Rizzolo as Clarice) while seeking her own man (Florindo Aretusi, played by Tug Rice), blurted out the wrong character’s name during Friday’s climactic scene — to the amusement of all involved.

The really good news is you can experience this frothy frippery for about what you would spend for a night of ‘raptors, popcorn and parking.

Thanks to the Hastings and Newman’s Own foundations, tickets are free for anyone 18 and under. Bank of America Customers get in for $28 using the promo code BOFA. Anyone 30 and under can buy tickets for $30. For everyone else, it’s $38. Picnics are welcome.

Performances are Tuesdays through Sundays at 8 pm, with twilight performances at 4:30 pm on Sundays. At 2 Convent Road. Free parking. More details are here, or call 973-408-5600.

Video preview: ‘The Servant of Two Masters’:

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