Two Gentlemen of Verona the second of Andrew Hilton’s productions for SATTF this spring, is one of Shakespeare’s early plays but it has all the confidence and zest of the later comedies with a plot slightly more easy to follow. Basically, only one of these two avowed friends is actually a gentleman: the other is a disloyal, devious, and disturbingly inattentive to detail since he can’t recognise his own dumped girlfriend in slacks pretending to be a boy… Mistaken identity, and the convention of impenetrable disguise, are themes and conceits the bard used much in later plays, and here they send abandoned Julia off with her maid to find, and forgive, deceitful Proteus and restore Silvia to loyal Valentine so the mixed-up lovers, as at the end of Midsummer Night’s Dream, can be reunited. The laughs ~ and there are many ~ come mainly from the servants’ interaction with their masters and mistresses, and with each other, which is so fast-paced and droll one suspects much credit should be given to Dominic Power for his ‘edition and additional lyrics'. Set and costume design are delightful, elegantly evoking an indolent era of class distinctions, and an amazing cast ensure each scene sparkles with high-energy wit. Special appreciation to Piers Wehner as Proteus who manages the difficult feat of remaining endearing despite his conniving, Jack Bannell as a gorgeously heroic Valentine and Chris Donnelly who with Lollio as Crab the dog provided some of the best moments in a superb evening of theatre. It's on at Tobacco Factory till May 4th ~ go see in Bristol or follow the tour.