Review of Twelfth Night
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Lesley Schisgall Currier
For tickets / schedule :
Forest Meadows Amphitheatre, Dominican University of California
RUN: July 29 – August 21, 2016
RATING: 4 of 5 stars
(July 29, 2016)
Twelfth Night is a rollicking tale that builds into chaos, settling in for a hasty ending moments before the plot spins out of control. Wrangling the story into a discernible and amusing form is experienced director Lesley Schisgall Currier. Celebrating the absurdity of amore, star-crossed lovers are effusive and melodramatic, while men strut about in oversized sparkling codpieces designed by Abra Berman. Marin Shakespeare’s production is bawdy and satisfying, but does not push boundaries; it is a conservative staging, despite the ruckus.
Elena Wright (Viola) is believable as a man, and carries a sense of melancholy through her sisterly concern and unrequited love for her master. Her interactions with Duke Orsino (Dean Linnard) are tragic and comedic, showing how often people are forced to wear a mask of contentment when feeling entirely different. In modern society, we are greeted with “How are you?” a question Viola would have to lie in response to. Beset with suitors she does not care for, Olivia (Kathryn Smith-McGlynn) reacts by retreating into herself, until opening her heart to love. The character shifts dramatically from plaintive mourning to a schoolgirl’s crush in the space of a few lines; a difficult transition to bring the audience along for. As a result, Olivia’s motivation is rushed and confusing, making mockery of her character prematurely. There is potential in the performance, if the imprecise timing can be overcome.
The antics of gin-soaked Sir Toby Belch (Daren Kelly) and Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Michael J. Hume) steal the show. Puffed up and confident, they carouse the night away, stumbling through practical jokes and enabling a duel that turns out quite fishy. Their accomplice Maria (Mary Baird) schemes in a lucid state of mind, her wit a sharpened awl against adversity. Together they become the focus of Twelfth Night. Untouched by greater concerns of love, good company and drink are all they require for a happy life. Accomplished acrobat Jeremy Vik juggles and tumbles as the fool Feste, who brings the two worlds of the play together in a central thread of merrymaking and inventive feats of balance.
Jackson Currier’s set design appears simple at first glance—pools of water and a primitive mural. It shines in use, as recessed pieces add to the staging, especially a revolving wall that turns an otherwise conventional scene of trickery from a letter into side-splitting hilarity.
Marin Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night is boisterous fun under the stars at Forest Meadows. It has room for improvement in the tale of lovers, such as Duke Orsino’s stilted dialog, but does not fail to captivate for an entertaining evening.