Photo by Richard Termine
"The Servant of Two Masters" at the Guthrie Theater
When The Servant of Two Masters opens at the Guthrie this month, it will be the production’s third stop, having premiered at Yale Repertory Theatre and then played in Washington, D.C. (It goes on to Boston from here.) Carlo Goldoni’s commedia dell’arte masterpiece reunites former Guthrie regular and Theatre de la Jeune Lune guest Christopher Bayes, who’s directing, and former Jeune Lune standout Steven Epp, who stars as the wily title character.
Originally written in 1743, the script has been updated to include pop-culture references, current music, and topical jokes tailored to the current news and locations of the productions. But while there is a certain amount of fluidity in the adaptation, it’s still “a very traditional production,” says Bayes. “We try to give it life, true to commedia but more contemporary.”
The play’s central character, Truffaldino, is a perfect vehicle for Epp’s comic gifts, and Bayes gives him plenty of room to work. “We are a caravan of misfits,” Bayes says, describing the stage antics. “I’m not a big intellectual. I am looking for ways for actors to achieve virtuosic playfulness. I’m interested in where the sweet spot is—and where the danger is, for it’s only in danger that you can achieve triumph. Then I swerve around and see where the fun can go.” Dec. 1–Jan. 20. Guthrie Theater, 612-377-2224, guthrietheater.org