Two Gentlemen of Verona
Two Gentlemen of Verona is a comedy by William Shakespeare. Believed to have been written between 1589 and 1592, some scholars maintain that it is the first play written by Shakespeare. As a result, it not only has the smallest cast of any Shakespearean drama, it is generally considered to be his weakest play.
Many critics point to the immaturity of staging that characterizes this play as evidence it was the work of a young Shakespeare. It has been noted that, for example, whenever there are more than three characters on stage at the same time, at least one of them falls silent. Further, while some characters speak in blank verse, others speak in prose. This is a notable departure from Shakespeare’s classic use of iambic pentameter. There is also no historical record of the play being performed during Shakespeare’s lifetime, but this is not indicative of the reality of it having been performed.
The two gentlemen, Valentine and Proteus, travel to Milan. Proteus is in love with Julia, and Valentine falls in love with Silvia, the daughter of the Duke of Milan, but Proteus also falls in love with the girl. Julia, in disguise as a boy, travels to Milan as well. Valentine is banished, and joins a band of outlaws. Eventually, Proteus and Valentine are reconciled. Valentine offers to give Silvia to Proteus, but when Julia is revealed, he remembers that he loves her, and both couples are united in love.