Hi. I’m Walking Bob, and as I walked near the Davis Art Center, I heard animated voices over a P.A. System, mingling with laughter and with cheers from a sporting event somewhere in Community Park. When I saw Acme Artistic Director, Emily Henderson, and Director, Maddy Ryen, taking notes, I knew I had found the dress rehearsal for the Acme Theater Company’s latest gift to the community, “The Servant of Two Masters.”
The dialogue and costumes grab you first as the young actors and actresses speak their lines with energy that befits the rapid actions and intrigue of this play. There’s a love story, sword fights, women playing men, woman playing women who pretend to be men, quick entrances and exits from every doorway, and at least one well-timed pie in the face. The audience even gets to take an active part by choosing the name of a character, as Emily and Maddy hope the cast will remember that evening’s name as it comes up later in the play.
Some of the cast I’d seen during the dramatic “Anon(ymous)” that Acme put on back in January. I was especially pleased to see that Roxanne McNally, who dominated the stage every time she came on with a relatively minor role as a pet bird, now has one of the leads as Clarice, who loves Silvio, who is upset because Clarice’s father is promising her in marriage to someone else, while the servant, Truffaldino, tries to sort out the needs of two masters and . . . . well, it’s complicated. No wonder it drives Clarice to tears.
Like any good farce, the acting and story threaten to explode into chaos at any moment, but the trust that Emily and Maddy showed in their young charges during Wednesday’s dress rehearsal makes it clear that all will be well. Part of the spirit of Acme has always been in trusting the young people to make, and recover from their own mistakes as the show goes on. As they say to parents, “Because of Acme’s commitment to youth independence and leadership, we ask that parents support their company members by resisting the temptation to ‘help’.”
When you attend, I encourage you to watch the whole stage so you don’t miss a poor porter collapsing under the weight of a large trunk, note the impending arrival of characters who the people onstage don’t know are coming, and enjoy the circus-like extravaganzas that separate one scene from another. At the same time, you need to look closely into the eyes of the young performers, like Leah Julian here, as their faces show the joys and frustrations of the characters they are playing with feeling and gusto.
The free program begins with a picnic dinner at 5:30 and the play at 7:00 on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday during the long Memorial Day weekend. Join the cast at the stage outside the Davis Art Center to celebrate thirty years of the Acme Theater Company that was started in 1981 by Dave and Libby Burmester. Now Emily Henderson and the new leadership of Acme continue to create “serious theater, for the fun of it.”
The fact that these are high school students who also have many school commitments means that it takes a lot of rehearsal and a long time between Acme performances, so don’t miss this opportunity. Bring your appetite, your sense of humor, a blanket or lawn chair, and several layers of clothing because it tends to get cool as the evening progresses. Margaret, Kashmir, Anna, Gigi, Alix, Neal, Emma, Roxanne, Alex, Dashiell, Antonio, Matt, Amber & Leah will be giving their best, so be ready for a lot of applauding, because that will warm you up and warm the hearts of the cast and crew.