Arts, On Campus

Makransky and Kearnan Serve as Two Masters of the Stage in ‘Servant of the Two Masters’

In many ways, it’s safe to say that Boston College is a pretty normal place in the world where pretty normal, daily occurrences are found. Students go to class and do extracurriculars. Professors teach and work on their research. Occasionally, there are days like Marathon Monday or special football games where things get a little weird or out of hand. But, generally, the wheels of BC tend to keep spinning smoothly, without making much noise. If one happens to go see the theatre department’s rendition of The Servant of Two Masters this weekend, however, he or she will be treated to an experience completely out of the ordinary: a wacky, zany, hysterical romp about Venice—one that isn’t easy to forget.

Luke Jorgensen’s retreatment of the original 1746 version adds a much-needed and appreciated modern facet to the tale of mixed-up love in a big city. A marriage between Silvio (Dan Quinones, MCAS ’19) and Clarice (Sydney Sabean, MCAS ’16) is canceled when Federigo (Aryn Mello Pryor, MCAS ’16), the man who Clarice was formerly promised to, reappears, despite claims that he had been killed in a duel with the Spaniard, Ramon (Ted Kearnan, MCAS ’17), who was Federigo’s sister’s lover. Federigo didn’t want Ramon to marry Roxanne, his sister, and died for it. Roxanne is disguising herself as Federigo in order to settle Clarice’s father, Pantalone’s, (Ryan Cooper, MCAS ’16) debts to Federigo and to find Ramon. Truffaldino (David Makransky, MCAS ’17), Roxanne’s servant, accompanies her to Venice and happens across Ramon in the city. Truffaldino offers his services to Ramon, but continues to work for Roxanne, giving the play its namesake, and pushing the plot through its many intricacies.

What’s strange about The Servant of Two Masters, plot-wise, is that, despite how complicated it sounds, it’s actually pretty easy to follow. Jorgensen’s script is written in modern English, which makes what would have been a very complicated 18th-century script rather accessible. Laced with references to movies like Airplane and The Princess Bride and songs like Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” and Rupert Holmes’ “Escape (Pina Colada)” set the play in a frame of modern context solidly, while references to CSOM, Mary Ann’s, and Chipotle reach to a more local resonance. These little allusions add familiar aspects to a foreign setting and hit viewers in the face, to their enjoyment, at the most unexpected moments.

As the servant of two masters, Makransky steals every scene he is in. Physically, Makransky must be one of the most dynamic and energetic actors ever to grace Robsham’s stage. He seems to defy physics, as he appears to pause for a moment in the air before seamlessly throwing himself onto a large chest mid-stage. Whether he’s somersaulting across the stage or juggling on a box, Makransky finds a different way to mesmerize the audience every other minute. Especially playing an absurdly ridiculous character, Makransky makes Truffaldino charismatic enough for viewers to actually like him and not just enjoy his antics.

Playing Ramon, one of Truffaldino’s masters, Ted Kearnan makes a bellicose stance as soprano, his ringing voice defining his character. He swaggers across the stage, bringing his knees nearly up to his chest with every step. Kearnan’s enrapturing Spanish accent will be stuck in viewers’ heads days after seeing the show, making him one of the more memorable and enjoyable characters in The Servant of Two Masters. Makrasky and Keanan play off of each other well, developing a touching chemistry.

While these two provide the most noteworthy performances, that isn’t to say that the rest of the cast doesn’t pull its weight. Playing the female equivalent of Truffaldino, Meghan Hornblower, MCAS ’17, brings an equal, yet distinct energy to her character, Smeraldina. Taking on the whiny, mopey Clarice, Sydney Sabean waddles across stage, crying her heart out at every little inconvenience she faces. These are just a few of the many outrageous, kooky characters found in The Servant of Two Masters, which is a testament to the treatment that Jorgensen has given the script.

Aside from the engaging characters and story, The Servant of Two Masters utilizes the Robsham stage wonderfully, with its industrial, carnival aesthetic. A large 2D carnival tent is erected as the main background of the set, while the stage is bombarded with painted and projected stars alike. The two-story deck, donned with two sheets used for silhouetted scenes throughout the play, is made the most of. Many elaborate chase scenes are found throughout the show in which characters can be seen weaving in and out of the deck on both levels. The actors’ timing with this intricate set proves seamless, as cues were never missed, despite the distances actors would have to cover in just a few seconds. The elaborate, grandiose set spoke to The Servant of Two Masters’ scale as both a story and a performance.

Incorporated throughout the play were many acts, such as acrobatic pieces and songs, that had little to do with the story, but made the carnival atmosphere apparent to and authentic for the viewers. The show opens with “Spectacular Spectacular” from Moulin Rouge, and, after the intermission, viewers are treated to the acrobatic skills of Kayleen McQuillan, MCAS ’19, as she balances herself on a conical box and manages to find every way possible to balance herself in a hanging hula-hoop. These intricate spectacles, alongside the complicated choreography of some of play’s scenes, exude a chaotic yet appreciable tone that moves the show along at a rapid pace.

This weekend’s Arts Fest has a lot for viewers, and that’s evident just from The Servant of Two Masters alone. This is by far the most meticulous, extravagant piece to hit Robsham in recent memory and future plays will have to muster up something amazing to rival it. The star of the show, David Makransky, is himself worth heading to Robsham for a night, as he puts on an exasperating, enthralling performance at every twist and turn the play has to offer. BC’s The Servant of Two Masters has taken the throne of BC theatre.

Correction: this article has been updated to reflect the fact that David Makransky is in the class of 2017.

Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Editor

April 27, 2016
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