"Two Gentleman of Verona" may be one of Shakespeare's earliest plays but it also appears to be one of the most relatable, exploring the complex friendship of two men in love with the same woman. As if the story itself is not compelling enough, DSF has also teamed up with two animal shelters, spotlighting the acting chops of just one of Delaware's adoptable pets.
For their 11th season, the Delaware Shakespeare Festival travels back to the roaring twenties to tell the tale of two men who fall for the same woman in "The Two Gentlemen of Verona," one of Shakespeare's earliest plays.
The play could easily be seen as a Shakespearean "bro-mance," as the two men square off as romantic rivals, proving to be gentlemen in name only and embarking on a series of romantic misadventures that test their own friendships against their true hearts' desires.
Directed by Barrymore-nominated artist Samantha Bellomo-who also serves at the Resident Director at People's Light and Theatre Company-who found the 1920's to be the perfect setting to tell the tale of "Two Gents."
"It was that time of history when we just got out of the war and everybody was going crazy and doing whatever they wanted," said Bellomo. "That connects in such a parallel way back to these boys who want to go off and experience life, to live fully and not care what happens next because finally they are at a place where they can do that."
However, the play did present the sort of challenge that has sent some directors barking up the wrong tree. The play calls for a dog to play the role of Crab. To cast the part, DSF partnered with two Delaware animal shelters: Faithful Friends Animal Shelter and Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary. The result has been mutually beneficial, though. Audiences love furry faces and the shelters get to raise awareness about the adoptability of "shelter dogs" by spotlighting just how personable and adaptable these animals can be.
For his part, DSF Artistic Director David Stradley is thrilled with the partnership and excited to possibly assist in finding these canine actors their forever homes. However, he is also just excited for the audience to get to experience a Shakespeare play that he holds dear.
"'Two Gents' was the first Shakespeare play I saw where I understood every word and had a great time watching the story," said Stradley. "We're looking forward to sharing a similar experience with our audience."
The Delaware Shakespeare Festival performs on the grounds of Rockwood Park. It began its run on July 12 and will continue through Sunday, July 28. Wednesday through Saturday, performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Sunday performances and Family Nights begin at 6 p.m. On Sundays, children 12 years old and younger are admitted for free with one paid adult admission.