A Double on Hill Street

Mar 21 2022 | By More

Arkle to bring Venetian Twins to Hill Street

Audiences at the Hill Street Theatre will be seeing double at the end of the month when local amateur company Arkle Theatre stages Tony Cownie’s adaptation of Goldoni’s The Venetian Twins.

The production, running from Wednesday 30 March to Saturday 2 April, is directed by Phil Barnes and will star Steven Bradley Croall as the estranged twins of the title, Tonino and Zanetto, who are unlike each other in every way… except that they look exactly the same.

Publicity image for The Venetian Twins. Pic: Arkle

Written just after The Servant of Two Masters – made famous by its Brighton-set adaptation: One Man, Two GuvnorsThe Venetian Twins follows in the same Commedia dell’arte style with a welter of complications and misunderstandings.

Cownie’s adaptation premiered in the Lyceum in 2015, when Grant O’Rourke played both twins, to critical acclaim and a wealth of four and five star reviews.

“Unfortunately I missed the original production at the Lyceum,” director Phil Barnes told Æ. “But I think that’s probably a good thing as it turns out now. We’ve put the performance together from the script and our reading of it, so it should be completely different experience from the Lyceum production.”

If he is glad not to be influenced by Cownie’s own direction of the original, Barnes points out that as a director he is always on the look for something different.

“You’re always pulling inspiration from this show or that,” he says. “There are definitely some set pieces which I saw work in something else, or some music which I wanted to use that has made its way into the show. But this is definitely an original Arkle/Barnes production and all the better for it.”

Twinning up

Steven Bradley Croall will be twinning up to play both the toffee-nosed Venetian Tonino (exiled for slapping royalty) and rustic Zanetto (slapped for feeling his betrothed Rosaura’s bottom) who – unknown to each other – turn up in Verona in search of their respective fiancees.

“Luckily, they are both very handsome so it hasn’t been too much of a stretch to get into the roles,” Bradley Croall laughs when asked about playing both parts.

“The fact that they are so different makes it easier to play them,” he continues, “if there were similarities then it would have been much more difficult.

“Tonino is definitely the most grounded character and it’s fun to play Zanetto in contrast to that; but as they are, it’s like playing any two parts in the same play. The most difficult thing has been the costume changes – turns out that quick changes are an excellent cardio workout!”

laugh out loud

So what drew the company to stage this particular show and Barnes to direct it?

“Three reasons probably,” says Barnes. “First, and perhaps most importantly, it made me laugh out loud when I read it. You would expect that from a comedy, but it is surprising the number of scripts I’ve read where you needed to search for the laughs when bringing it to the stage.

“Secondly I really enjoyed Tony Cownie’s adaptation of the original Goldoni script. It’s a very clever adaptation, converting a lot of the dialogue into Scots dialect.

“Hopefully this means it will appeal to our audience here in Edinburgh, but it’s also given us a chance to explore the characters in relation to our own perceptions of what it means to be Scottish and push them beyond stereotypical archetypes. I’ve really enjoyed hearing the words rolling off everyone’s very talented tongues in rehearsals.

“Lastly, I thought it would be a challenge to do justice to the script and bring chaos to an amateur stage without it descending into anarchy. I’m lucky to be working with ten brilliant actors so I’m confident, but I guess only time will tell if I’ve succeeded.”

The Venetian Twins
Hill Street Theatre, 19 Hill Street EH2 3JP.
Wednesday 30 March – Saturday 2 April 2022
Evenings 7.30pm.
Tickets and details:  Book here.


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