Shakespearean comedy on tap

Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park opens 2012 season with “Two Gentlemen of Verona.”
BY JOHN BRANDENBURG Modified: June 19, 2012 at 5:32 pm •  Published: June 19, 2012

There was almost “two much information” about the absurdity and blindness of love and too much forgiveness of bad behavior to be believed in an early play by William Shakespeare. Performed on Myriad Gardens Water Stage, the Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park version of “Two Gentlemen of Verona” was crudely effective — by turns romantically appealing and uproariously funny.

But it also sometimes came across as a “work-in-progress,” or rough draft, containing the germs of many concepts and characters developed more fully and satisfactorily in Shakespeare's later work.

Brad Brockman had the right hearty, foursquare quality as Valentine, who at first can't persuade his best friend to join him in leaving Verona to find love in the court of the Duke of Milan. Kyle Whalen was more multi-layered, and a “man you loved to hate,” as the best friend, Proteus, who swears love for Julia before leaving Verona, then promptly falls for the woman Valentine loves in Milan.

Playing the role with a light touch, Whalen made you almost believe in his motives as he played everyone false, including himself, and fell back in love with Julia, in the play's hard-to-swallow happy ending.

Victoria Hines played the object of both men's affection, Silvia, the daughter of the Duke of Milan, with just the right amount of passion and virtue, seasoned with more than a hint of caprice. Hal Kohlman had powerful stage presence as Silvia's cigar-chomping, loving but loose cannon father, the Duke, easily persuaded to banish her true love, then forgive him and everybody else in the finale.

Shane McClure also had some hilarious moments as the father of Proteus, pointing his hunting rifle haphazardly, and seeming to get his advisor and son confused, as he orders the latter to join Valentine in Milan.

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