The Servant of Two Masters

by John Stoltenberg

There is so much sheer silliness on stage at the Landsburgh, you could find yourself giggling and guffawing back to childhood. Seriously. But with your adult sense of (mildly smutty) humor intact.

Director Christopher Bayes has given his ridiculously talented cast free rein to improvise wildly, riffing on the text, their characters, the plot, current events, and whatnot, in physical comedy so broad it could use a wide-load warning. In the process they recreate before our eyes a riotously contemporary version of classic 18th-century commedia dell’arte.

The comic bits just kept coming and coming.

For me the rampant low-brow hilarity in this production had a curious effect: It gave its serious theatergoers express permission to delight again in the sort of infantile entertainment found in Roadrunner cartoons, the Three Stooges, Beavis and Butthead—all that stuff we think that as grownups we ought to have grown out of. And in tickling us silly, it seemed to temporarily reset the audience’s collective chronological age.

Who knew an art form so old could be so fun—and make one feel so young?