Review | Scapin: a servant of no masters

Ten Thousand Things, through Nov 4

Sarah Agnew and Kimberly Richardson in SCAPIN. Photo by Paula Keller.

A director friend of mine once said, “A little stupid is funny; a lot of stupid is just stupid.” The Ten Thousand Things staging of Scapin is just the right amount of stupid and it is very funny. (Ten Thousand Things Theatre, performing Scapin at Open Book, thru Nov 4)

Anyone not familiar with TTT may be surprised by their ‘all the lights on’ production and super-spare staging. The company’s mission is to bring theatre to paying audiences as well as to those who have few or no resources such as people in shelters, prisons and nursing homes. Under the energetic direction of Randy Reyes, Scapin does this extremely well. The set is comprised of only two boxes that remain on stage throughout. Keeping the show interesting with few props or frills becomes a group effort.

Broadly played with slapstick and schtick, there is always something happening on stage. Reyes adapted the play with “additional text from the cast” and the show often has an improvisational feel to it. The character Scapin is a Robin Hood-esque servant who has a way of sticking it to the wealthy masters and mistresses of his world in order to come to the aid of young lovers. (The original title translates as “The Deceits of Scapin.”) Sarah Agnew plays the part of the title character with a twinkle in her eye. There are few actors in the Twin Cities as relaxed on stage as she is which makes her a joy to watch in almost any role.

The show shifts from the 17th century world of servants and masters to present times as characters toss out quips about millennials and text messages. Most of the actors in the cast do double duty by playing more than one role. Ricardo Beard and Elise Langer do excellent work in both of their respective roles. But the real shape-shifting art on display is how well the cast is able to change the pacing and mood from one scene to the next, or even from one line to the next. They play a sudden ‘oh-oh’ moment with just the right pause and resonance.

The plot is fairly simple and anyone familiar with Shakespeare’s comedies about mistaken identities and accidents at sea and will find similarities with Scapin’s storyline. The show is not the most profound piece TTT has done over the years but it’s a healthy balance of fun and sass — with just the right amount of stupid.

Please visit Mari’s informational website.

 

 

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