If the Three Stooges sends you off into peals of sidesplitting guffaws, then you are way ahead of your time.  You would have loved the form of theater dubbed commedia dell’arte, that began in the 1500’s in Italy and stayed popular for its slapstick and silliness for centuries.

Have no fear, however, the Yale Repertory Theatre is providing a healthy dose of jolly folly in its ambitious and energizing version of Carlo Goldoni’s 1743 comedy “The Servant of Two Masters,” adapted by Constance Congdon, translated by Christina Sibul and directed by Christopher Bayes, at the University Theatre, 222 York Street, New Haven until Saturday, April 3.

Steven Epp’s multi-talented Truffaldino considers himself a master at being a servant, and, if he can feed his hungry stomach twice over by having two employers, all the better.  The action, set mostly in Venice, centers on a duel between Florindo (Jesse J. Perez) and Rasponi, the brother of Beatrice (Sarah Agnew).  When her brother is killed, Beatrice takes on his persona in disguise so she can claim his estate.  She also wants to find Florindo whom she loves and whom her brother had forbidden her to marry.

When news of the duel reaches Venice, Clarice (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) rejoices with her father Pantalone (Allen Gilmore) that she is now free to marry Silvio (Andy Grotelueschen), released from her obligation to wed


Meanwhile Truffaldino industriously begins secretly serving both Beatrice and Florindo, mixing up their letters, their trunks, their clothing and their ledgers.  Between the disguises and mistaken identities, it’s confused chaos as fish fly, tempers flare, lies take wing, feasts are served, operettas are sung and love is determined to be a bonbon that is deadly.

The doctor (John Treacy Egan) is happy to encourage the nuptials of his son Silvio, the maid of Clarice, Smeraldina (Liz Wisan) is excited to entertain the affections of Truffaldino, while Brighella (Liam Craig) is content to be the hospitable inn keeper.

For tickets ($35-82), call the Yale Rep at 203-432-1234 or online at www.yalerep.org.  Performances are Tuesday – Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees selected Wednesday and Saturdays at 2 p.m.

Put your masks firmly in place and prepare for laughter to the rafters, where silliness is embraced and everything is a marvel and a mess, confused and enchanted.


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