Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

The Servant of Two Masters
Synetic Theater
Review by Susan Berlin | Season Schedule

Also see Susan's reviews of Mean Girls and Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma!

Vato Tsikurishvili and Maryam Najafzada
Photo by Johnny Shryock Photography
The mission of Synetic Theater in Arlington, Virginia, is to create unique theatrical events through a blend of movement, music, technology, and visual arts. The company's current wordless adaptation of Carlo Goldoni's The Servant of Two Masters is derived from a play that innovated, at its premiere in 1746, by using elements of improvisational commedia dell'arte as the basis of a scripted performance.

Vato Tsikurishvili adapted the script, directs, and takes the title role: Truffaldino, a down-and-out fellow who, over the course of 90 minutes, simultaneously takes on jobs with two people and tries to keep them from finding out about each other. The characters are based on archetypes familiar to commedia audiences, but here embellished with both gravity-defying physicality and sincere emotion.

Half the fun is seeing how everything fits together. Artifice is the key to the staging of a story involving a young woman disguised as her deceased brother (Nutsa Tediashvili); her lover, accused of the brother's murder (Jacob Thompson); the dead brother's supposed fiancée (Irene Hamilton) and the man she actually loves (Pablo Guillen); her dictatorial father (Philip Fletcher); her maid (wide-eyed Maryam Najafzada); and two minor but necessary characters (Delbis Cardona).

Tsikurishvili dominates the proceedings, not only as the catalyst who drives the plot but also as a large man with astonishing grace for his size. All three women also stand out: Tediashvili, who spends a lot of time wrestling with her fake mustache; Hamilton, resembling a sad-eyed doll in a pink dress; and Najafzada (also the choreographer), who sparkles in the interactions between Truffaldino and Smeraldina.

Phil Charlwood's scenic design is in almost constant motion with its towers, staircases, and structures that change purpose while in use. Many of Aleksandr Shiriaev's costumes have multiple layers to accommodate the shifting needs of the actors and characters. Konstantine Lortkipanidze's score includes echoes of the antic music that accompanies slapstick and silent film comedy.

The Servant of Two Masters runs through May 1, 2022, at Synetic Theater, 1800 S. Bell St., Arlington VA. For tickets and information, call 866-811-4111 or visit

Directed and adapted by Vato Tsikurishvili
Choreographed by Maryam Najafzada
Resident Composer: Konstantine Lortkipanidze

Truffaldino: Vato Tsikurishvili
Cop and Chef: Delbis Cardona
Pantalone: Philip Fletcher
Silvio and Federigo: Pablo Guillen
Clarice: Irene Hamilton
Smeraldina: Maryam Najafzada
Beatrice: Nutsa Tediashvili
Florindo: Jacob Thompson