Theatre review: The Venetian Twins, Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh (4 stars)

Theatre review: The Venetian Twins, Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh

Carlo Goldoni survives the translation into Scots in highly amusing fashion

Given its positioning in the canon of works by 18th century Italian playwright Carlo Goldoni, it’s easy to see why ‘The Venetian Twins’ might be due a revival; after all, it’s immediate predecessor in his list of major plays ‘The Servant of Two Masters’ has done huge business since the West End rechristened it ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’ and put James Corden in the lead role. There’s much of that reimagining in Lyceum stalwart Tony Cownie’s new version as adapter and director, although his decision – a justified one, given the reaction – to stage the piece in Scots might not make it so transferable.

As with ‘Servant/One Man’, a Scots version of which opened the Lyceum nearly half a century ago, a case of mistaken identity is the root cause of the humour here. Grant O’Rourke excels in the lead role(s) of separated-at-birth twin brothers Zanetto and Tonino, one a bumbling oaf, the other a suave gentleman, who have both travelled to Torino from Venice to win two separate hands in marriage. The difference in the pair’s characters is marked, and O’Rourke plays the fool and the straight man with easy attention to detail, no mean feat given he’s charged with walking offstage as one and reappearing almost instantly as the other.

Amidst the ten-strong cast, deft comic characters and the talent to handle their crackling interplay abounds, from Dani Heron’s take on nice-but-dim bride-to-be Rosaura to James Anthony Pearson’s lisping, over the top suitor and Kern Falconer’s plucky but creaking elderly gentlemen. Played strictly for laughs (and it gets them, with a slew of robust one-liners in the vein of ‘sex is a bit like bridge – if you don’t have a good partner you’d better have a good hand’), the lack of deeper moral lessons is easy to overlook.

The Venetian Twins is at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, until Sat 16 May

The Venetian Twins

Tony Cownie's new version of Carlo Goldoni's timeless comedy tells the story of two estranged twins, Zanetto and Tonino. Though they look alike, as people they couldn't be more different. When the arrive in the same town on the same day, things start to get a little confusing.

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