Two Gentlemen of Verona at the Abbey Theatre, St Albans

Two Gentlemen of Verona

Two Gentlemen of Verona - Credit: Archant

The Two Gentlemen of Verona are going back to the future at the Abbey Theatre from tonight (Thursday).

The Company of Ten is giving one of Shakespeare’s rarely performed plays an 80s-style makeover – complete with big hair, shoulder pads and vibrant colours, all set to a soundtrack of classic pop tunes.

The Two Gentlemen of Verona is an energetic romantic comedy combining ribald humour with near tragedy and plenty of emotion. Widely believed to be the bard’s first play, it contains many of the scenes, speeches and trademarks from his later works, including the classic plot device of the-girl-disguised-as-a-boy.

The story follows the love lives of two friends, Proteus and Valentine, and their two love interests, Silvia and Julia, as they negotiate all the angst, betrayals, break-ups and make-ups of adolescent romance.

According to the director, Angela Stone, the emphasis on the confidence yet also the vagaries of youth made setting the play in the 80s an easy decision. She explained: “It just seemed a natural era for it. I remember a resurgent youth culture, confidently challenging the old order and emerging from the social and economic darkness that was the 1970s.”

Alongside the romantic drama, the play features some comic moments – not least the scene where Proteus’ servant, Launce, complains about his dog’s bad behaviour at the Duke of Milan’s palace.

As well as drama and comedy, there will be a generous helping of 80s pop nostalgia, with a playlist ranging from Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams are Made of This and Peter Gabriel’s Big Time to U2’s With or Without You and Kool & The Gang’s Celebration.

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Performances from tonight until Saturday, March 1, and from next Wednesday, March 5, to Saturday, March 8, start at 8pm and this Sunday (2) there is a matinee at 2.30pm.

Tickets are available from or the box office on 01727 857861.