The Two Gentlemen of Verona tells the story of two devoted friends, Valentine and Proteus. Valentine leaves their home city of Verona for Milan, but Proteus, in love with Julia, stays behind. Then Proteus’s father sends him to Milan, too. Before leaving, Proteus pledges his love to Julia.
In Milan, Valentine and the duke’s daughter, Sylvia, are in love. Proteus, on arriving, falls in love with Sylvia at first sight. He reveals to the duke that Sylvia and Valentine plan to elope, and Valentine is banished. Meanwhile, Proteus’s earlier love, Julia, assumes a male disguise and travels to Milan.
The banished Valentine meets outlaws and becomes their leader. Sylvia, in search of Valentine, is seized by his outlaws. Proteus rescues her and then, when she spurns him, tries to rape her. Valentine stops the rape, but out of friendship offers to yield Sylvia to Proteus. Julia, however, reveals her identity, regaining Proteus’s love. Two weddings are planned: Valentine with Sylvia, and Proteus with Julia (reproduced with permission from Folger).
Productions of The Two Gentlemen of Verona:
1910 Beginning on March 28, several companies presented a London Shakespeare Festival at His Majesty’s Theatre. Herbert Beerbohm Tree‘s company played The Merry Wives of Windsor, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, and Hamlet. Norman Mckinnel presented King Lear and The Merchant of Venice; Arthur Bourchier and his company came next with The Merchant of Venice. H. B. Irving played Hamlet, and Frank Benson‘s “Bensonians” followed with the Taming of the Shrew and Coriolanus. Poel’s Elizabethan Stage Society gave a performance–in the “original” sixteenth-century style–of The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Lewis Waller revived his Henry V, and Tree returned to close the Festival with The Merchant of Venice and Richard II (Loney, I, 54).
The Stratford-upon-Avon Shakespeare Festival opened on April 22 this year. The Festival began with Herbert Beerbohm Tree’s Hamlet; Benson’s company then performed The Taming of the Shrew, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and Richard III with Genevieve Ward and The Merchant of Venice with Ellen Terry. The season was cut short and ended when Edward VII died on May 6 (Loney, I, 54).