Two gentlemen is close to being great Shakespeare, but it doesn’t quite there. Some of the dialogue is fantastic, as you would expect, particularly the wordplay of Launch.. What unravels it, as sometimes happens with the Bard, is the ending, which tries too hard to tie everything up neatly and get everyone married. Proteus never gets the comeuppance he so richly earns and the characters seem almost casual in whom they end up with. Scholars tell us Shakespeare had some hidden meaning in this. I think it’s just the limitations of trying to shoehorn the play into the genre of “comedy”.
It’s an interesting look, however, at an artist stretching his arms before he upends everything. I’m reminded somewhat of Beethoven’s first and second symphonies, which occupy an odd niche of respecting classical tradition but giving hints of the greatness that was to come. Given the organization of the First Folio, however, it will be a while before I get there.
Side Note: Cracked and I are on a wavelength (warning: gruesome Shakespeariness). I am really not looking forward to Titus Andronicus. Woody Allen once said that the end of the universe and the extinguishing of all human achievement might be acceptable if it got rid of Titus.