The Two Gentlewomen of Dover is an adaptation and update of Shakespeare’s The Two
Gentlemen of Verona, with gender and role inversions. Valentina and Portia are the
play’s central characters, with everything that happens revolving round them.
Valentina prepares for her new job in the West End of London, in the marketing department
of Italian shoe giant Kudos. She ribs her friend Portia over Portia’s infatuation
with Julian, which keeps her in Dover. Portia tries to show that Julian isn’t the
reason she is staying behind, saying she can’t stand him. Julian is playing much
the same game, and affects to be aghast at a love note Portia has sent him by tearing
it to pieces.
Meanwhile Aston is fed up with his daughter Portia forever sponging off him, and
plans to pack her off to a law firm in Serjeants’ Inn, where he has heard of an opening.
Valentina, now working at Kudos in London, falls in love with Silvain, who in his
student vacations is also working there, where his father is MD. Hearing that Valentina
is a graduate of English lit, he asks her, on his behalf, to pen a love sonnet for
someone he has recently taken to (in reality Valentina herself), and which he intends
to dispatch through Kudos’s internal mail.
Portia, reluctantly, follows her friend to London, and starts work in the Serjeants’
Inn law firm. It emerges that Silvain’s father, the Kudos MD, wants him to marry
Signora Thurio, here on a business visit from head office in Milan. However, Valentina
and Silvain plan to marry quietly in a register office, Valentina having had the
ruse with the sonnet patiently spelt out to her.
Learning of this, Portia intends to leave Julian and betray Valentina, by telling
the MD of Silvain’s plans for a secret wedding. Portia is now intent only on bedding
Silvain herself. However, Julian decides to follow Portia to London, disguised as
a female punk called Sabrina.
On an email from Portia, MD now foils Valentina plan, and fires her. Valentina is
exiled to Epping Forest, where she becomes manager of an ill-reputed tyre remould
shop. Thurio, hopeful herself of winning over Silvain, agrees to help him on his
way to Epping Forest, so that he can meet up with Valentina. News of this plan also
leaks out, so that in the final action everyone bar Aston and Lucy descends on the
Epping Forest tyre remould shop, where Portia sees this as her best chance of imposing
herself on Silvain. He repels her advances. Frustrated, she tries to force herself
on him, but at just this moment he is reconciled with Valentina. Thurio can see where
she stands, and tells everyone she must get back to her aging mother in Milan, and
some important business she has with a football club. Julian sheds his disguise,
and having delivered a strongly worded anti-feminist tract, amazingly will still
marry Portia. MD, in a change of heart, offers to buy shares in the remould business,
enabling it to invest in new equipment, staff retraining and better quality stock,
as a blessing on the couple Silvain and Valentina.
For applications for rights, including performing rights, contact CentreHouse Press,