Venice comes to Letchworth as Players master the art of classic Venetian farce

Settlement Players production of A Servant to Two Masters, February 2016. Smereldina and Pantaloon

Settlement Players production of A Servant to Two Masters, February 2016. Smereldina and Pantaloon - Credit: Archant

One Man, Two Guvnors has been one of the biggest stage hits of recent years – but what about the 18th century farce that inspired it?

Settlement Players production of A Servant to Two Masters, February 2016. Beatrice and Silvio

Settlement Players production of A Servant to Two Masters, February 2016. Beatrice and Silvio - Credit: Archant

Richard Bean’s modern take has toured the world since first being staged, with James Corden the most famous name to take the lead role.

But way back in 1743 Venetian playwright Carlo Goldoni came up a boffo box office hit of the time called Il Servitore Di Due Padroni – A Servant Of Two Masters if you will – which had the same basic premise, allowing the actors of the time room to improvise for laughs in a tangled upstairs downstairs farce.

That original text has now been adapted by Lee Hall, still best known for creating Billy Elliot but a writer who loves variety – a biopic of Elton John and a film adaptation of George Orwell’s Down And Out In Paris And London are projects in the pipeline – and has a distinguished record as an adapter and translator of works which have often fallen by the wayside.

That’s the version that will be staged by Letchworth’s Settlement Players later this month.

Settlement Players production of A Servant to Two Masters, February 2016. Clarice and Silvio

Settlement Players production of A Servant to Two Masters, February 2016. Clarice and Silvio - Credit: Archant

The group’s Sam Powell said: “Goldoni’s comedy about a wily servant who gets the best of his masters by hook or by crook is one of the classic commedia dell’arte scripts – an enduring story of love, passion and mistaken identity.

“This new, rapid fire adaptation has been updated to give the action the fast-paced feeling of a Christmas pantomime, complete with extra bawdy jokes.”

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The production will be staged from Thursday to Saturday, February 25 to 27, at the Little Theatre in Nevells Road, with curtain up at 7.45pm each evening.

Tickets are £8, available from David’s Music in Eastcheap or online at settlement-players.co.uk/box-office.

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