I witnessed a miracle at Shakespeare & Company this week, a children’s show that is as much fun for the adults as for the young ones. The Venetian Twins is a classic case of mistaken identity, as two brothers – separated at birth – decide to visit Verona at the same time. It isn’t long before their friends, girlfriends and pals are all in an uproar due to the confusion that ensues.
Here is the really neat thing. The basis of this hysterical farce is a three hundred year old play by Carlo Goldoni that could be the basis for a hit children’s television series. Jonathan Croy and Jenna Ware at Shakespeare & Company have updated it in ways that make it as fresh as today, while retaining the classic commedia dell’arte, and is reminiscent of Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors. This show also gives you a chance to introduce the young ones to the classic commedia characters (link) such as Harlequin and Columbine.
The Venetian Twins may be based on a very old play, but for the most part it is in plain spoken English, every child will understand every word. Sure Goldini uses wildly inventive language to help his characters bamboozle each other with one comic misunderstanding after another, but kids today learn the art of parsing language before they even reach the age of reason. We teach them well.