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With Helen Mirren in the part of Julia, the world of Robin Phillips' Aldwych production of The Two Gentlemen of Verona, was highly glamorous. It was Hockney's California or the Cote d'Azur, inhabited by playboys and girls with outfits from the King's Road. Wealthy financier Antonio strolled down and plunged into a pool on the forestage and, after manfully swimming a couple of lengths, held up his face for his servant to stick a fat cigar in his mouth.
The young lovers were aristocratic students and were observed wryly by a working-class Launce, played by Patrick Stewart. The Duke was a sort of Don, and Sir Eglamour an old scout master. During Sylvia's escape, the pool became an expanse of water for Eglamour to feebly carry her across; it also served as a bath, and a mirror. The carefree atmosphere of the play was reflected in its style, as the direction itself was highly imaginative and humorous. Outside the safety of Milan, the outlaws were dressed in animal skins. The actors, too, were confidant and flip. The lines were frequently twisted cynically and Ian Richardson, as Proteus, swaggered, hands on hips and accepted his double betrayal as if the whole thing were a joke.
The dog, Blackie, was a particularly big star, and was discovered by Patrick Stewart at the Avon Dog Service who saved him from a destruction centre after he had been picked up as a stray.